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Donated by 

The Redemptorists of 
the Toronto Province 

from the Library Collection of 
Holy Redeemer College, Windsor 

University of 
St. Michael's College, Toronto 


fa Jr^ 




Instructions by the Seraphic Doctor, 




17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo. 





Sti. Ludovici, die. 15. Sept. 1919, 

Fr. Martinus Strub, O.F.M., 


Sti. Ludovici, die. 15- Sept. 1919, 

Fr. Samuel Macke, O.FM., 
Min. Prov. 


Sti. Ludovici, die 15. Dec- *9*9, 

F. G. Holweck, 

Censor Librorum 


Sti. Ludovici, die 16. Dec. 1919, 

^Joannes J. Glennon, 

Sti. Ludovici 

'Copyright, 1919, 


Joseph Gummersbach 
All rights reserved 
Printed in U. S. A. 




1. Need of Careful Consideration ... 3 

2. Need of an Instructor 4 

3. Qualities of Those Who Need No In 

structor 8 

4. General Qualities of Superiors . 10 


1. Three Kinds of Good Religious ... 12 

2. Fourfold Duty of Correction .... 15 

3. Benefits Good Religious Derive ... 20 

4. Threefold Account of Careless Super- 

riors 22 


1. Three Kinds of Corporally Sick ... 30 

2. Three Kinds of Spiritually Sick ... 35 

3. Admonition Against Rashness . . .37 


1. Three Things that Require Great Pa 

tience 40 

2. Evil Consequences of Impatience . . 46 

3. Three Reasons Against Discouragement 48 




1. Its Necessity 54 

2. In Community Life 55 

3. In Humility 56 

4. In Etiquette 58 


1. Its Necessity 65 

2. In Reference to Four Things .... 68 

3. Three-Fold Advantage of Accepting 

Advice 85 

4. Admonition Regarding Flatterers and 

Detractors 92 


1. Its Necessity 94 

2. Its Effects 95 

3. Divine Office 97 

4. Continuous Devotion 99 

CONCLUSION . . . .., .. ... .no 



"Give an occasion to a wise man, and wisdom shall 
be added to him." 1 

As an intelligent man, who frequently be 
comes wiser through the folly of others, finds 
even in trifling occurrences matter for increas 
ing his store of knowledge, so newly appointed 
superiors, who may not be fully prepared for 
distinguishing between what is right and what 
is wrong in the discharge of their duties, may 
find inducements in this treatise to give the 
matter more earnest reflection and seek from 
the study of the imperfections here described 
to acquire a better knowledge of the higher and 
more useful things as well as of many others 

1 Prov. 9, 9. 

2 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

necessary to a religious superior in the govern 
ment of inferiors. For we read that scientists 
have been led to deduce certain practical prin 
ciples from the careful study of the habits of 
certain animals. 2 

* St. Isidore, Etymolog., C. 19, n. 9. 



I. " These things I write to thee, . . . that 
thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave 
thyself in the house of God." 1 The Apostle 
wrote two Epistles to his disciple Timothy, 
whom he had assigned as Bishop to the Church 
at Ephesus, teaching him how he ought to con 
duct himself in the office committed to his care, 
in order that, having learned from him how 
to lead a holy life, he might also learn through 
him how to govern others in a useful and 
meritorious manner. For there is a vast dif 
ference between knowing how to be submissive 
and humble, how to live in peace with others, 
and how to rule others in a useful manner. 
" You may notice," says St. Bernard, " many 
living peacefully under a director, but if you 

*l Tim. 3, 14 sq. 

4 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

free them from the yoke, you shall see them 
unable to be peaceful and helpless against evil. 
Again you may find some who, as far as they 
are concerned, live in peace with all and really 
need no master, yet are by no means fit to 
direct others. For they are content with a 
certain good mediocrity, as God ' has divided 
the measure of grace ' 2 to them. They 
know how to live sociably and peacefully 
among brethren, but when placed over them as 
superiors, they are not only useless, but impru 
dent and detrimental. There are others who 
know how to be superiors." 3 Hence Moses 
was instructed not to appoint anyone to gov 
ern the people, but " to provide out of all the 
people " experienced and " able men " to 
" judge the people at all times." 4 For 
one who is entrusted with an office, in order 
to be of benefit to others, must first learn the 
discipline of goodness by studiously exercising 
it himself and by frequent practice to form the 

2 Rom. 12, 3. 

3 Serm. in Cant., XXIII, n. 8. 

4 Ex. 18, 21 sq. 

Selection of Superiors 5 

habit of it. Hence we read that Our Lord 
first practised what He later taught by word. 
" Jesus began to do and to teach." 5 

2. Those who enter upon the duties of a 
superior need an instructor, in order that they 
may learn the things of which they are ig 
norant, namely, what is necessary and useful 
for their own salvation and spiritual advance 
ment. In other words, what they ought to 
avoid and what they ought to know, to do, to 
hope, to fear, and to realise as the greater or 
less good or evil. " You have need to be 
taught again what are the first elements of the 
words of God." 6 They should also be trained 
in the practise of virtue, because it is not suffi 
cient to know what is good, but the good must 
be actually practised, even as one who has fin 
ished a course in medicine, later on applies his 
science practically. For practice gives to the 
mind greater skill than mere knowledge of 
principles. And as those that are still defi 
cient are usually slow in exercising themselves 

6 Acts I, i. Heb. 5, 12. 

6 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

in virtue, it is necessary that they be urged to it 
occasionally by others. Masters, therefore, 
are wont to exercise the disciples whom they 
desire to advance in perfection in diverse 
virtues, now in humility, now in fraternal 
charity, now in self-control, now in devotion, 
now in patience, chastity, silence, obedience, 
etc., so that, practiced in this way, these virtues 
become habits, and the vices opposed to them 
are eradicated. For the more a virtue in 
creases, the more the vice opposed to it de 
creases. " Bring them up," says St. Paul, " in 
the discipline and correction of the Lord." 7 

Those who enter upon the duties of a su 
perior must furthermore be watched, lest they 
fall into sin or practice virtue with little dis 
cretion. For souls that are inexperienced, and 
not entirely free from inclination to sin, are 
more frequently restrained from sin through 
the fear of men than through the fear of God. 
Hence it is expedient for them to be subject 
to the direction of superiors, by whom they 
are withdrawn from danger, as little children 
f Eph. 6, 4. 

Selection of Superiors 7 

in danger of falling into the water, or threat 
ened by wolves, are safeguarded by their 
mothers. " Counsel shall keep thee and pru 
dence shall preserve thee, that thou mayest be 
delivered from the evil way and from the man 
that speaketh perverse things." 8 

They finally need a director to correct them, 
because evil ways always lead to something 
worse, just as a fever often is the cause of a 
more serious ailment, and a wound often pro 
duces an ulcer, unless the doctor's care prevents 
it. Thus also a person that commits a fault 
is not easily corrected unless he is sustained by 
the help of one who is stronger than himself. 
On this account God desires older persons to be 
superiors of the young, in order that if these 
fall into sin, or become negligent and impru 
dent, they may be corrected by admonition, cor 
rection, and punishment. For if they were left 
to themselves, they would either fail to realise 
their fault or wallow in the mire and sink 
deeper into it. Of such St. Jude says: "And 
some indeed reprove, being judged." 9 

8 Prov. 2, ii sq. 8 Jude 22. 

8 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

Therefore it is necessary for them to be 
humbly subject to a master, because a patient 
cannot be cured of an ailment unless he obeys 
the directions of his physician. Evil passions 
are ailments in man. " He gave them power 
and authority over all devils, and to cure 
diseases." 10 

3. Those, however, who need no master for 
themselves, ought to be so enlightened in 
knowledge that they cannot err in those mat 
ters which they need to know, and cannot be 
deceived by men, nor by the evil spirit, nor by 
their own reason under the appearance of good, 
but are endowed with the gift of the discern-* 
ment of spirits. Of them must be true what 
St. Paul says : " Everywhere and in all things 
I am instructed." 11 

They must also be filled -with the fervor of 
devotion, so as to know, without the urging of 
another, how to apply themselves faithfully to 
the exercise of every virtue in the best manner 
possible. They should also be able to say: 
" Forgetting the things that are behind and 
10 Luke 9, i. Phil. 4, 12. 

Selection of Superiors 9 

stretching forth myself to those that are be 
fore." 12 

They should, besides, be so filled with the 
love of goodness that they naturally detest 
every evil, as it were, diligently avoid scandal, 
and live peacefully and without offence to any 
one, as the Apostle says : " Be without offence 
to the Jews and to the Gentiles." 13 

They should therefore be so humble in all 
things that they are neither elated over any 
good thing that they may possess, nor presume 
to be entirely free from evil, but accurately dis 
cern in themselves all disorders of thought, 
word, and omission, and correct them by strict 

In all these things they are to be so firmly 
grounded that neither levity, nor distraction, 
nor difficulty, nor fear shall be able to change 
their attitude. " Who shall separate us from 
the charity of Christ." 14 

But as it is difficult to find such persons, few 
are fit to live without the yoke of obedience, 

12 Phil. 3, 13. " Rom. 8, 35. 

18 i Cor. 10, 32. 

io Virtues of a Religious Superior 

and those who are placed as superiors over 
others, to act better and more intelligently, must 
in turn necessarily be subject to others, up to 
the Supreme Pontiff, who in turn rules the en 
tire Church Militant as Vicar of Christ. 

4. Therefore, those who are obliged to gov 
ern others must be endowed with various vir 
tues. Some of these, which involve an irre 
proachable life, refer to themselves; others, to 
their superiors, by means of which they hum 
bly obey those whom they are obliged to obey ; 
others, to subjects, by means of which they 
govern them meritoriously and advance them 
in virtue. But though he who has the duty of 
teaching every virtue by authority of his office, 
ought to possess all virtues in an eminent de 
gree, still, as six is the first perfect numeral of 
its kind consisting of several parts, 15 a good 
director of souls, especially a religious, must 
be distinguished among the rest by special vir 
tues, as Isaias says: "The Seraphim [who are 
the most eminent choir of heavenly spirits] had 

16 Cfr. St. Bon., Comm. in SeM. f 1. I, dist. 2, qu. 4. 

Selection of Superiors 1 1 

six wings." 16 It was probably for this reason 
that the Lord appeared to our holy Father, St. 
Francis, under the likeness of a Seraph, when 
He marked him with the stigmata of His Pas 
sion, to show that those who -would be su 
periors in his Order must be endowed with 
spiritual wings. So also, according to St. John 
in the Apocalypse, " the four living creatures 
had each of them six wings." 17 

16 Is. 6, 2, IT Apoc. 4, 8. 



1. The first wing of a director of souls is 
seal for justice, by which he cannot bear to 
see any injustice done to himself or to others 
without interior protest. Every man is to be 
considered good in so far as he hates evil. The 
more a thing is cherished, the more is its de 
struction regretted. Hence it is to be ob 
served that there are four kinds of persons 
who are commonly called good in a religious 
order and in the Church. 

2. The first are those who, while they do 
no wrong, do not diligently exercise themselves 
in good works, e.g., those who live in peace and 
tranquillity with others, giving neither offence 
nor scandal by bad deeds. Of such it is said : 
" These men were very good to us, and gave 
us no trouble." 1 We are accustomed to call 

1 1 Kings 25, 15. 


Zeal for Justice 13 

those good who are gentle in their ways and 
live sociably with all, even though they appear 
somewhat sluggish in the practise of virtue. 
Baptised children are considered good in the 
same sense. 

3. The second kind are better. They do 
nothing wrong and frequently practise good 
works, of self-denial, chastity, humility, 
charity, assiduous prayer, and similar things 
which they believe to be good. It is charac 
teristic of this class of persons that, as they 
neglect naught of the things they understand 
and are able to do, they are content with what 
ever good they do, and are not incited to higher 
things or inspired with a more perfect desire 
for sanctity. They are satisfied with a certain 
amount of watching, praying, alms-giving, 
fasting and similar -practices for God's sake, 
but leave the higher things to others. To 
them is applicable what Ecclesiastes says : " I 
have found that nothing is better than for a 
man to rejoice in his work, and that this is his 
portion." 2 
2 Eccl. 3, 22. 

14 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

4. The third class is even better than the 
former two. They that belong to it detest and 
avoid sin, and studiously perform the good 
that they are able to do, and when they have 
done all that they can, they think that they 
have done very little in comparison with what 
they would have liked to do, knowing that, as 
the Apostle says, " bodily exercise is profitable 
to little." 3 Consequently they aspire to vir 
tues of the soul, sweetness of internal devotion, 
an intimate knowledge of God and the sensual 
perception of His Love, deeming themselves 
to be and to have nothing, nor receiving any 
consolation from temporal and spiritual things, 
as long as they are not enjoying, according to 
their wish and desire, the pleasure of devotion 
and that arising from the above-mentioned 
practice of virtues. They are, however, not 
kindled with fervent zeal against evil habits 
and against the danger of others falling into 
sin. They desire that all men should be good 
and happy, but when they find the contrary to 
be the ease, they experience no pain but are 

8 1 Tim. 4, 8. 

Zeal for Justice 15 

content with themselves and God. Such per 
sons, if called to rule over others, are less fit 
for this purpose, because they give more con 
sideration to their own comfort than to the 
care of their subjects, like the figtree in the 
parable, which said : " Can I leave my sweet 
ness and my delicious fruits, and go to be pro 
moted among the other trees? " 4 

5. The fourth class are the best. They, like 
the former, are aflame with zeal for justice, 
innocence, and virtue, and the salvation of 
souls. They obtain no consolation from their 
own advancement unless they can draw others 
with them to God, after the example of our 
Lord, who, though He possessed in Himself 
the fulness of everlasting beatitude, was not 
content with having glory for Himself, but 
went out and, by assuming the form of a serv 
ant, drew many after Him by deed and word. 
The zeal of justice, like the " scarlet twice 
dyed," 5 glitters with the two-fold color of 

4 Judges 9, II. 

5 Ex. 31, 36 et alibi. Cfr. St. Gregory, Reg. Past., P. 

n, c. 3 . 

1 6 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

charity, love of God and of neighbor. Love 
of God not only inspires a desire to enjoy His 
sweetness and cling to Him, but delights in 
doing His holy will, increasing His worship, 
and exalting His honor, for it desires to see 
Him acknowledged, loved, served, and glori 
fied above all things by every one. Love of 
neighbor desires not only the corporal well- 
being and temporal prosperity of others, but 
far more their eternal salvation. Wherever, 
therefore, charity is more perfect, the desire to 
promote these things is more fervent, the en 
deavor more energetic, the joy purer, when it 
sees them accomplished. For charity " seek- 
eth not her own," 6 but the things that are 
God's. In proportion to the ardor with which 
you love God, and the purity with which you 
desire the things that are God's, you grieve 
over the offences committed against Him, 
when you see that He is not acknowledged, but 
dishonored ; when you see that He is not loved 
and obeyed, that His worship is subverted and 
His enemies are multiplied and rejoice. And 
9 1 Cor. 13, 5. 

Zeal for Justice 17 

according to the depth of your love for the 
salvation of your neighbor you will grieve over 
his. ruin and the obstacles laid in his way to 
ward heaven. 

6. Though charity is required of all the 
friends of God, it is required above all of His 
representatives, who, according to His will, 
should be governed by love of justice and 
hatred of iniquity. " Thou hast loved jus 
tice," says the Psalmist, " and hated in 
iquity." 7 By justice is here meant the observ 
ance of all those things that are necessary for 
the salvation or perfection of souls. 

7. Some of these things have their founda 
tion in the eternal law, such as the pure vir 
tues : humility, chastity, charity, mercy, and the 
like, without which no one can be saved. To 
these the commandments of God in the old and 
in the new law are mainly directed. For, as 
our Lord says, upon the law of God and neigh 
bor " dependeth the whole law and the proph 
ets." 8 Others are of human institution, pre 
scribed by an authority that acts in the name of 

7 Ps. 44, 8. 8 Matth. 22, 40, 

1 8 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

God. Such are the laws that have been laid 
down by the Church for the general welfare, 
the rites for the administration of the Sacra 
ments, and other regulations of positive law. 
" The canons are to be observed by every 
one," 9 in such a manner that each one shall 
observe what pertains to his state and what is 
prescribed for all, laymen as well as clerics. 

Others proceed from a vow, as the things 
which no one is compelled to do, tut which a 
man of his own free will has promised and 
is obliged to keep as it were by divine com 
mand. Such are, for instance, the chastity 
and obedience of the religious state, the abdi 
cation of property in monasteries, and the 
special obligations imposed by the rule of each 
order upon its members. " When thou hast 
made a vow to the Lord, thy God, thou shalt 
not delay to pay it; because the Lord thy God 
will require it. And if thou delay, it shall be 
imputed to thee for a sin. If thou wilt not 
promise, thou shalt be without sin. But that 

8 X. de Constit., 1. g, tit. 2: " Canonum statuta cu- 
stodiantur ab omnibus." 

Zeal for Justice 19 

which is once gone out of thy lips, thou shalt 
observe and shalt do as thou hast promised to 
the Lord, thy God, and hast spoken with thy 
own will and thy own mouth." 10 

Still others proceed from certain practices 
of spiritual progress, which are not otherwise 
necessary for salvation, such as the discipline 
of the Divine Office, the individual duties in 
an order, the order of duties, the time of ob 
serving silence, the use of food and raiment, 
the order of time and work, vigils and other 
spiritual practices, which differ in the various 
religious orders according to what seems most 
expedient for each. Though in regard to 
these things there exists no such strict obliga 
tion as if salvation were impossible without 
them, yet disregard of them mars the beauty 
of religious life and usually prevents spiritual 
progress and the edification of others. For 
just as the love of justice zealously promotes 
those things in oneself and in others, so on the 
other hand it grieves and is consumed and in 
censed when they are disregarded. " Have I 
10 Deut. 23, 21-23. 

2O Virtues of a Religious Superior 

not," says the Psalmist, " hated them, O Lord, 
that hated Thee; and pined away because of 
Thy enemies." n 

8. A person imbued with zeal for justice has 
a certain innate delicacy of feeling, which 
teaches him to deplore grave transgressions 
more seriously than minor ones. A thought 
ful person considers things as they are, either 
good or bad, but a fool either regards great 
things as trifles or trifles as great things, and 
takes the mote in his brother's eye for a beam, 
" straining out a gnat and swallowing a 
camel." 12 " You tithe mint and rue and 
every herb and pass over judgment and the 
charity of God," says Christ. 13 Such persons 
are carried away by selfishness and are not 
guided by the Spirit of God, like unto those 
who punish a person more severely for a neg 
lected inclination in choir than for repeated 
detractions of another religious, or grow more 
indignant over the neglect of a versicle or 
some minute prescription of the rubrics than 

11 Ps. 138, 21. 13 Luke n, 42. 

Matth. 7, 3 ; 23, 24. 

Zeal for Justice 21 

over a serious quarrel accompanied by scandal. 

9. First and above all, therefore, transgres 
sions of the commandments of God must be 
prevented and deplored ; then transgressions of 
the inviolable precepts of holy Church; after 
this the non-observance of those things to 
which a person has bound himself by a volun 
tary promise, as, for instance, the regular ob 
servance of a rule, especially that which is 
prescribed as a matter of precept; finally, all 
habits having a species of malice, namely, 
avarice, pride, envy, gluttony, anger, sus 
picious familiarity, disobedience, and similar 
vices, through which the reputation of reli 
gious, whereby the rest of the faithful ought 
to be edified and learn what to avoid and what 
to do, loses its sweet odor, so that the faithful 
are scandalised by their vices rather than re 
freshed by the example of their virtues. St. 
Paul had such in mind when he said : " The 
name of God is blasphemed through you 
among the Gentiles." 14 A serious secret sin is 
more easily corrected than such an evil habit, 

14 Rom. 2, 24. 

22 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

because the former can be cured by secret pen 
ance, whereas an evil habit is scarcely ever 
eradicated from the hearts of those whom it 

10. In the fifth place, the zealous practice of 
prayer must be encouraged. It enlivens the 
true religious spirit and incites to the practice 
of every virtue. A religious congregation that 
is not fed with this oil runs dry. The struc 
ture of good works is unstable if it is not sus 
tained by frequent and devout prayer as a 
stone wall is sustained by cement. In every 
religious order in which the fervor of devo 
tion has decreased, the structure of the other 
virtues begins to weaken and is in danger of 
ruin. " The lamps of the foolish went out." 15 

11. Finally there is to be mentioned the 
neglect of external discipline, which has been 
established as an ornament of the religious life 
and an incentive to spiritual progress. To 
disregard it is a sign of carelessness and in 
terior levity. Compliance with discipline is 
not prescribed in such a way that one is not 

15 Matth. 25, 8. 

Zeal for Justice 23 

allowed to live differently, but for the reason 
that it is more conducive to conformity of 
virtue and uniformity of life, lest any one live 
and act as he likes and thus prove a cause of 
disturbance to others. In regard to such cus 
toms and practices, which are in themselves 
indifferent, but prescribed, as has been said, 16 
for other reasons, greater care should be 
given to their being well observed than to 
scrupulous anxiety lest by some slight indul 
gence they be neglected, unless, indeed, their 
habitual disregard would engender a bad habit 
and dissimulation nourish neglect; in which 
case, to prevent other evils, the zeal of dis 
cipline must not relent. 

12. A superior who is imbued with a true 
zeal for justice, therefore, will first of all take 
care not to do or teach anything wrong; sec 
ondly not to allow or permit himself to be 
moved by importunity or deception; thirdly, 
not to favor or prefer to see anything done 
without being asked, or in his absence; 
fourthly, never to dissemble or be silent, as if 
16 Supra, n. 7. 

24 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

he had no knowledge of things, whereas it is 
his duty to admonish and teach how bad cer 
tain things are, and to deter others from pre 
suming to attempt them in future ; fifthly, not 
to permit faults to go unpunished, because the 
punishment of a transgression always produces 
some good, namely, by deterring the one who 
is guilty from sinning again. " Sin no more," 
said Christ, " lest some worse thing happen to 
thee." 17 Furthermore, faults should not be 
permitted to go unpunished, in order that the 
erring brother may be cleansed from his sin 
and not be punished more severely by God later 
on, for, says Proverbs, " Thou shalt beat him 
with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." 18 
Also for the reason that by this means others 
may be taught to beware lest they fall into 
similar faults. " The wicked man being 
scourged, the fool shall be wiser," 19 that is to 
say, the weak and the beginner learn to be 
cautious. Finally, the Superior, who takes the 
place of the Supreme Judge, saves his own 

17 John 5, 14. 19 Prov. 19, 25. 

18 Prov. 23, 14. 

Zeal for Justice 25 

soul from the sin of neglect by fulfilling his 
duty. Heli, the high priest, because he failed 
to do this, heard his own sentence of death and 
also that of his sons. 20 

13. Dutiful religious differ from careless 
ones not in this that among the former none is 
found without sin, but that none is suffered 
to sin unpunished, and they are studiously pro 
tected from the danger of sinning, kept away 
from the incorrigible, and are cherished and 
loved, that they may persevere and advance 
continuously on the way to perfection. Since 
depravity was found among the choirs of the 
holy Angels before their confirmation in grace, 
and among the Apostles under the direction of 
Christ, what order of virtuous persons on earth 
may dare to claim for itself that there is no 
sin in its members? Though many are free 
from sin by the grace of God, yet not all. 
" You are clean, but not all." 21 

14. It is well for the good, while they are 
still in a position to acquire supernatural 
merits, to have among them some wicked per- 

20 i Kings 4, ii sq. 21 John 13, 10. 

26 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

sons who may be for them the occasion of 
greater merit. They may have compassion on 
them in their wickedness. Their zeal may be 
inflamed. They may exert themselves in cor 
recting the erring. They may be filled with 
fear of becoming like them. The wicked may 
become a source of temptations to the good. 
The good may have to suffer persecution from 
the wicked. They may be confounded and 
humbled in considering the evil ways of the 
bad, because they are not like them, and 
prompted to render thanks to Him who has 
protected them from becoming like the wicked. 
If no opportunity were offered to the good to 
practice the above mentioned virtues, their 
merits would by that much be curtailed. 
" What things a man shall sow," says St. Paul, 
" these also shall he reap." 22 

15. Badly disposed religious, however, are 
to be neither cherished nor favored, but 
may be tolerated, especially those whose faults 
are secret and do not contaminate others, and 
for whom there is hope of amendment. 
22 Gal. 6, 8. 

Zeal for Justice 27 

Where these things are lacking, bad religious 
cannot be tolerated without serious detriment, 
and hence should be expelled, in order that 
their wickedness may not appear to be agree 
able to those who are good. During the time 
that they are tolerated, they are to be punished 
with the rod of admonitions, corrections, hu 
miliations, and penances ; and soothed with the 
balm of exhortations, consolations, prayers, 
and promises, if they recover from their faults 
and become strong. The way of sin and 
temptation must be closed to them. This is 
also beneficial for good religious, lest the oc 
casion of sin corrupt them. 

If a superior, who takes the place of God, 
" whom his Lord setteth over his family," 23 
and to whom for this reason subjects owe the 
same obedience as to the Lord Himself, fails 
to correct delinquents, permits the growth of 
bad habits and the introduction of evil prac 
tices, and allows those that have crept in to 
increase and spread; if he sees that the regu 
lar observances are neglected and transgres- 

23 Luke 12, 24. 

28 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

sions multiply, and yet neglects to stop the 
existing or impending evils to the best of his 
ability, he shall be responsible to God for three 

1 6. First of all he shall have to render an 
account to God for his negligence in omitting 
to do that to which his office obliged him. 
" Because being ministers of his kingdom, you 
have not judged rightly, nor kept the law of 
justice, nor walked according to the will of 
God. Horribly and speedily will he appear to 
you: for a most severe judgement shall be for 
them that bear rule." 24 

Secondly, all the sins of his subjects, which 
he could and ought to have corrected, are im 
puted to him. "If thou dost not speak to 
warn the wicked man from his ways, that 
wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I shall 
require his blood at thy hand." 25 

In the third place, he shall be responsible 
for the abuse of the dignity and power that 
was given to him, having turned it to his own 
honor and pleasure and not to the purpose for 

2 * Wis. 6, 5. 2B Ezech. 33, 8. 

Zeal for Justice 29 

which it was conferred upon him. " Take ye 
away ... the talent from him . . . and the 
unprofitable servant cast ye out into the ex 
terior darkness. There shall be weeping and 
gnashing of teeth." 26 

17. A superior who is imbued with the right 
kind of zeal should show how much he loves 
God by promoting in himself and in others 
what pleases Him. He should not falter in 
his zeal through sloth, nor tire in his exer 
tions, nor be deflected by counsels, nor fooled 
by cunning, nor carried away by friendship and 
flattery, nor terrified by threats, nor become 
discouraged on account of long standing 
abuses, but should fulfill his duty. 

28 Matt. 25, 28, 30. 



1. The second "wing" of the ecclesiastical 
superior is pity or fraternal compassion. As 
the love of God inflames him with zeal for 
justice, so fraternal love should imbue him 
with affection. For if the rod should be held 
over evil-doers, the staff is required for the 
support of the weak. ' Thy rod and thy staff, 
they have comforted me." l St. Paul says : 
" Shall I come to you with a rod ; or in charity, 
and in the spirit of meekness?" 2 Thus also 
the Samaritan poured into the wounds of the 
half dead wanderer the wine of fervent zeal 
and the oil of compassion. 3 

2. There are two kinds of infirmities that 
need to be treated with compassion, the one 
corporal, the other spiritual. Corporal infirm- 

1 Ps. 22, 4. 3 Luke 10, 33 sq. 

2 i Cor. 4, 31. 


Pity 31 

ity is threefold. There are first the sick who 
are forced to remain in bed on account of 
an acute or serious disease. There are, sec 
ondly, those who, though confined to their 
cells, are able to be up and about now and 
then and sometimes even venture out, yet are 
subject to frequent and severe attacks of pain 
ful ailments, such as gallstones, ulcers, obesity, 
and the like. A third kind of sick are those 
that have no specific ailment, but are weak 
and exhausted, as, for instance, the aged and 
those who have been over-worked or are de 
pressed by natural weakness and momentarily 
worn out by accidental languor. 

These classes of patients must be severally 
treated in a threefold way, namely, with drugs, 
if it can be properly done, or relaxation of 
rigor in food, raiment, hours of sleep, etc., 
exemption from work in the shops, from serv 
ices, from attending choir and the like, accord 
ing as their needs may require. Each of these 
remedies is to be applied to the sick according 
to their condition, as indicated above, so that 
they may find relief. 

32 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

3. Pity and compassion must be shown to 
the sick and ailing because they are afflicted 
by the Lord. If they are molested because 
of their condition their very misfortune will 
cry out to the Father of mercies against their 
tormentors. " They have persecuted him 
whom thou hast smitten ; and they have added 
to the grief of my wounds." 4 For a side 
man is harassed in his affliction a great deal 
more when those who are in duty bound to 
do so, fail to comfort him, to relieve him from 
work, to supply his wants, and have no pity 
for him. " In thy sight," says the Psalmist, 
" are all they that afflict me ; I looked for one 
that would grieve together with me, but there 
was none; and for one that would comfort 
me, and I found none. And they gave me 
gall [reproach] for my food, and in my thirst 
they gave me vinegar [censure] to drink. Let 
their table become as a snare before them, and 
a recompense and a stumbling block." 6 

4. A good superior realizes that he is the 
father and not the task-master of his brethren, 

* Ps. 68, 27. B Ps. 68, 21, 23. 

Pity 33, 

and acts like a physician, not like a tyrant. 
He does not consider his subjects as beasts of 
burden or slaves, but as children, who are 
destined to partake of the eternal inheritance, 
and does unto them " as he would have it done 
unto himself," 6 if he were in a similar posi 
tion. The strong and healthy do not suffer 
as a sick person does, and hence have no com 
passion with the sick. But they will know it 
later on when they themselves suffer affliction. 
They object that sick persons often imagine 
themselves to be weaker than they really are. 
Are all, then, to be considered hypocrites for 
this reason ? Should they not on the contrary 
recall that the Lord was willing, to spare many 
wicked men for the sake of a few who were 
just? 7 

5. The sick stand in greater need of assist 
ance and compassion than the hale and strong, 
for three reasons. First, on account of the 
necessity of sustaining life, which they cannot 
do for themselves. If the necessaries of life 
are not procured for them by others, they be- 
6 Tobias 4, 16. 7 Gen. 18, 23. 

34 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

come enfeebled and cannot endure. " He that 
is cast off should not altogether perish." 8 
Secondly, on account of the necessity of restor 
ing health and strength, which they have lost 
by sickness. If even a strong and healthy per 
son needs assistance in order to sustain his 
health, one who is sick and weak needs a two 
fold relief in order not to lose the strength 
he still has, and to recover that which he has 
lost. For, says the Lord : " From him that 
hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken 
away." 9 Thirdly, on account of the relief 
which consolation brings. For those who are 
much afflicted it is a solace to see others having 
compassion upon them and faithfully assisting 
them in the endeavor to recover their health. 
" Blessed be ye of the Lord, for you have pitied 
my case." 10 

6. But, says some one, those for whom there 
is hope of recovery are indeed worthy of as 
sistance, but it is a useless waste to assist those 
who are hopelessly ill. This would be correct 

8 2 Kings 14, 14. 10 I Kings 23, 31. 

9 Luke 19, 26. 

Pity 35 

if consideration were asked for the sick not 
for the sake of charity, but for reasons of 
worldly utility. But he who comes to the re 
lief of an invalid for the sake of receiving a 
return for the favor, deprives himself of the 
merit of charity. The greater the misery, the 
brighter is mercy and the purer is charity. It 
is, therefore, well for a superior occasionally 
to suffer himself, so that he may learn to have 
compassion on his subjects. " We have not 
a high priest, who cannot have compassion on 
our infirmities: but one tempted in all things 
like as we are, without sin." n 

7. Spiritual infirmities are also threefold. 
The first class of sufferers comprises those who, 
because of lack of devotion or under the in 
fluence of temptations, are prone to commit 
faults and incur imperfections, are easily led 
astray by temptations, and apt to fall into sin. 
" There are many infirm and weak among you, 
and many sleep." 12 

In the second class are those who, though 
devout and well disposed, become discouraged 
"H'eb. 4, 15. "i Cor. n, 30. 

36 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

by a slight correction or a severe reprimand, 
or fall a prey to a kind of diffidence akin to 
despair, or give way to great impatience and 
excitement, which causes them to grieve after 
wards and sometimes to annoy others. Of 
such St. Paul says : " We that are stronger, 
ought to bear the infirmities of the weak." 13 

To the third class belong all imperfect re 
ligious, who waver in the pursuit of virtue, 
and, through the impulse of the passions, feel 
themselves intermittently, even though reluct 
antly, urged to turn to irritation, anger, slotH, 
lust, intemperance, and other carnal as well as 
spiritual vices. They may cry in the words of 
the Psalmist : " Have mercy on me, O Lord, 
for I am weak: heal me, for my bones are 
troubled." 14 

8. The remedies to be applied to these in 
firmities are : to remove the occasion of the 
scandal and the opportunity of sinning, in 
order that they may not see or hear anything 
that would cause them to grow infirm, and 
hence they should not be permitted to roam 
"Rom. 15, i. "Ps. 6, 3. 

Pity 37 

about outside the house. Dina was ravished 
when she left her house. 15 Through frequent 
exhortations they should be strengthened in 
the practice of patience, and should be spared 
severe reproaches and other measures that 
would tend to excite them until they have re 
covered from their frailty. St. Paul says: 
" Fathers, provoke not your children to in 
dignation, lest they be discouraged." 16 He 
who nags an excited person, so to speak, pro 
vokes a barking dog to bite him. Their 
idiosyncrasies and imperfections should be 
borne with equanimity. " All things cannot 
be in men." 17 

9. As doctors, in treating rude and inexperi 
enced persons, are wont to disregard their ig 
norance, because they are simple, so virtuous 
persons kindly bear with the faults of others, 
knowing that all cannot be equally perfect, 
and hence do not impose upon those who are 
like tender children in Christ heavier burdens 
than they are able to carry, or expect of them 

15 Gen. 34, i, 2. 1T Ecclesiast. 17, 29. 

19 Col. 3, 21. 

38 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

anything that exceeds their strength. In ref 
erence to this the words of Jacob are appro 
priate : " Thou knowest that I have with me 
tender children and sheep, and kine with 
young, which if I cause to be overdriven, in 
one day all the flock will die." 18 In other 
words, he who drives those who are like chil 
dren and have a certain measure of good will, 
resembling a fruit in the womb, as it were, in 
an effort to make them practice virtue above 
their strength, destroys in them what, with the 
help of grace, they have already acquired. 
" We became little ones," says St. Paul, " in 
the midst of you, as if a nurse should cherish 
her children." 19 He means, I have humored 
you humbly and gently, out of consideration 
for your sensitiveness and inexperience. On 
the other hand, the Lord, through the Prophet 
Ezechiel, chides harsh and unfeeling shepherds : 
" The weak you have not strengthened, and 
that which was sick you have not healed, that 
which was broken you have not bound up, ... 
neither have you sought that which was lost; 
18 Gen. 33, 13. 10 i Thess. 2, 7. 

Pity 39 

but you have ruled over them with rigor and 
with a high hand." 20 St. Bernard says : 
" Learn to be towards your subjects like 
mothers, and not like masters; strive to be 
loved rather than feared; and if severity is 
sometimes necessary, let it be paternal and not 
tyrannical. Show yourselves as mothers in 
loving, as fathers in chastising. Be gentle, 
avoid harshness ; hang up the rod, and give the 
breasts. A mother's breasts should bulge with 
milk, not swell with fever. Why do you load 
your subjects down with your burdens when 
you ought to be bearing theirs? " 21 " Carry 
them in your bosom," says the Lord to Moses, 
" as the nurse is wont to carry the little infant, 
and bear them into the land, for which thou 
hast sworn to their fathers." 22 

20 Ezech. 34, 4. 

21 Serm in Cant., XXIII, n. 2. 

22 Numb. 11, 12. 



1. The third wing of the ecclesiastical 
Seraph is patience and forbearance. As the 
roof of a house or tent catches the dust, rain, 
and wind, so that the interior may remain clean 
and neat, so superiors who faithfully defencl 
their subjects against the tempests of sin must 
often vicariously bear the brunt of adversities, 
even as the hen hurls herself against the hawk 
in defense of her chicks. 

2. Now there are three things above all 
others in regard to which patience seems to 
be necessary to a superior. First, on account 
of his manifold duties, cares, and occupations. 
He has to watch over the spiritual discipline 
as well as to provide for corporeal needs, as 
the Apostles were solicitous not only for the 
spiritual, but also for the temporal necessities 


Patience 41 

of the faithful, especially the poor. " James 
and Cephas and John," says St. Paul, " gave 
to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellow 
ship : that we should go into the Gentiles, and 
they unto the circumcision," i. e., to preach the 
gospel, " only that we should be mindful of 
the poor; which same thing also I was careful 
to do." 1 Our Lord fed the multitudes whom 
he had refreshed with the words of salvation, 
and also with material bread, when they had 
no food. 2 There are also various occupations, 
arising out of domestic cares as well as from 
external causes, in which a superior is occa 
sionally involved and which are apt to fill him 
with anxiety. Besides these there arise a mul 
titude of labors, such as delivering discourses, 
holding vigils, attending to business affairs, and 
other trying duties which require patience. 
Moses, who was the mildest of men and privi 
leged to hold intimate intercourse with God, 
divided the burden of governing the chosen 
people because he was unable to carry so many 
responsibilities alone. " I alone," he said, 
1 Gal. 2, 9 sq. 2 Mark 5, 35-44- 

42 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

" am not able to bear your business, and the 
charge of you and your differences. Let us 
have from among you wise and understanding 
men, and such whose conversation is approved 
among your tribes that I may appoint them 
your rulers." 3 

3. In the second place a superior needs 
patience because of the slow progress of those 
in whom this virtue is feeble. He sees how 
few of his subjects advance, how that which, 
after great exertions and many efforts on his 
part, had begun to show a little improvement, 
is easily subverted, and how, on account of the 
many difficulties and obstacles impeding spirit 
ual progress, his labors seem to be fruitless, 
just as when one has sown much seed and sees 
only a few plants growing. Sometimes he ob 
serves that what he has personally commanded 
and ordered, is carried out in a careless man 
ner, and that evil creeps in under the cloak of 
good, so that he dares not openly to repress 
it, since it appears good outwardly, and still 
in the end a greater good is frustrated and the 
Deut i, 12, 13. 

Patience 43 

door opened for manifest abuses, as in the 
case when, to save more souls, more members 
have been received than can be conveniently 
kept. This increase of membership will in the 
end be detrimental to poverty, because some 
wish to enjoy and not to be deprived of many 
things, and consequently frequent excursions 
are made to obtain the things that are neces 
sary, unusual methods are chosen to obtain 
them, acts against the rule are committed in 
receiving them, devotion is disturbed, religious 
customs fall into desuetude, the brethren be 
come accustomed to go out at will and seek 
various comforts of the body, contract famil 
iarities forbidden by the rule, and ask their 
penitents for presents, make the edification of 
souls secondary to other advantages, flatter the 
rich, increase the order's landed possessions, 
raise sumptuous palaces, fail to correct scan 
dals, and God's honor, which is to be advanced 
by the sanctity of our lives and by the edifica 
tion of others resulting therefrom, is spurned. 
The same must be said of the premature pro 
motion of young men and of those who lack 

44 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

experience to the offices of confessors, preach 
ers, and superiors. It also applies to many 
things which glitter in the eyes of men, but 
interiorly, in the eyes of God, dim the pure light 
of religion. Those who are inexperienced in 
the religious life, and have no taste for spirit 
ual things, are apt to imagine that the whole 
strength of the spiritual life consists in this 
external respectability, and therefore defend 
the latter with great zeal, having no regard for 
true virtue. A religious superior who sees 
these and many other disorders, and judges 
everything in the light of truth, is grieved and 
troubled, and not daring to correct the abuses 
as he would desire, is trained wonderfully in 
the virtue of patience. " My zeal has made me 
pine away." 4 " The zeal of thy house has 
eaten me up." 5 

4. In the third place patience is necessary 
for a superior on account of the ingratitude 
of those for whom he labors with so much 
anxiety. He scarcely ever satisfies them, and 
they generally complain that he could act dif- 
* Ps. 118, 139. 8 Ps. 68, 10. 

Patience 45 

ferently or do better if he wished, so that often 
he is in doubt whether he ought to make con 
cessions and do what they desire, or stand 
firmly for what he believes to be more ex 
pedient. He may say with St. Paul : " I am 
straitened between two : having a desire to be 
dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far 
better." 6 A superior must also practice pa 
tience, when his subjects judge rashly the 
things that he does and put an evil construction 
upon them, criticise him, murmur and com 
plain against him, defame him, and take 
scandal when he thinks he is serving God and 
them, so that he is scarcely able to escape the 
difficulties arising from whatever he ordains 
or undertakes because it displeases them and 
disturbs others. Patience is still more neces 
sary for a superior when some of his inferiors 
directly oppose or attack him, or cunningly 
prevent him from doing his duty. 

5. The superior should seek to protect him 
self against these and other difficulties which 
beset him, by the triple armor of patience : first 
Phil, i, 23. 

46 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

let him reply to each one with gentleness, de 
liberation, and kindness, and repress the in 
clination to impetuosity, in order that he may 
not by voice, feature, or conduct, betray im 
patience. He will achieve more by patience 
and finally conquer those whom he would pro 
voke still more by impetuosity. Thus Gideon, 
by his gentle answer to the men of Ephraim, 
who sought a quarrel with him, appeased their 
anger. 7 " A mild answer," says Scripture, 
" breaketh wrath, but a harsh word stirreth up 
fury." 8 Excitement is scarcely ever quelled 
by excitement, and a vice is not cured by a 

Impatience in a superior causes confusion in 
the attainment of the good which he could pro 
mote. It scandalizes others, for as Proverbs 
says, " he that is impatient, exalteth his folly." 9 
It renders him contemptible in the eyes of his 
subjects and of others. " He that is vain and 
foolish, shall be exposed to contempt." 10 It 
makes him feared and disliked. " A man full 

7 Judges 8, 1-3. *Ib., 14, 29. 

sProv. IS, 18. 10 Ib., 12. 8. 

Patience 47 

of tongue is terrible in his city, and he that is 
rash in his word shall be hateful." J1 It pro 
vokes others to impatience. " A passionate 
man stirreth up strifes; he that is patient ap- 
peaseth those that are stirred up." 12 His sub 
jects dare not inform him of their needs. " If 
we begin to speak to thee, perhaps thou wilt 
take it ill." 13 It fills the house with murmur- 
ings and complaints. " He that troubleth his 
own house, shall inherit the winds." 14 It re 
pels timid characters and engenders cowardice. 
" A spirit that is easily angered, who can 
bear ? " 15 No one dares to correct such a 
superior in matters that ought to be corrected. 
" He is a son of Belial, so that no man can 
speak to him." 16 

6. A superior shall, in the second place, cul 
tivate calmness. He should neither seek re 
venge for injuries done to him, nor hate those 
that have done them, nor be less attentive to 
their wants, nor seek to have them removed. 

11 Eccl. 9, 25. 14 Prov. II, 29. 

"Prov. 15, 18. /&., 18, 14. 

ia Job 4, 2. > 6 i Kings 25, 17. 

48 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

But he should rather show greater attachment 
to such persons, so that by this means he may 
edify them and others by doing good to them 
and, after the example of the Good Shepherd, 
exercise himself in virtue. " You shall be the 
sons of the Highest," says our Lord, " for he 
is kind to the ungrateful and to the evil." 17 
Since to instruct in virtue is a duty of the su 
perior, shall he teach his vicious subjects by 
having them removed? Can the physician ef 
fect a cure by shunning his patients? Can a 
youthful athlete gain renown by refusing to 
meet his competitors? Can a merchant be 
come rich if he neglects the chances of secur 
ing a great profit? This is the reason why 
so many bishops and prelates have become 
sanctified above others because they attained 
the height of perfection through the oppor 
tunities which their position offered them, by 
doing good as well as patiently bearing ad 
versities and edifying others. It is for this 
reason St. Paul says: "If a man desire the 
office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." 18 
" Luke 6, 23. i 8 1 Tim. 3, i. 

Patience 49 

7. A superior shall, thirdly, exercise for 
bearance. Himself willing and eager to do 
what his office requires of him, he shall bear 
with the fatigue, the tardiness, and the im 
portunities of his subjects, because thus he will 
acquire higher merits. " Do you therefore 
take courage, and let not your hands be weak 
ened; for there shall be a reward for your 
work." 19 The " hands " of a superior are 
eagerness in doing good and patience in bear 
ing burdens. If these are not weakened by 
idleness or want of forbearance, he will reap 
an eternal reward. 

8. For by these adversities a superior is 
cleansed from the stain of sin which he con 
tracts through human frailty. " In many 
things we all offend," says St. James, 20 and 
superiors are often guilty of negligence for 
which they need to be cleansed in this life, in 
order that they may not be punished in the 
next. "If he commit any iniquity," says the 
Lord, " I will correct him with the rod of men, 

19 2 Paral. 15, 7. 
2 Jas. 3, 2. 

5O Virtues of a Religious Superior 

and with the stripes of the children of men." 21 
9. Weighed down by these faults, a su 
perior is guarded against the evil of pride, 
which ensnares especially those who have 
power over others. The sublimity of his po 
sition, the freedom from restraint which it 
confers, and complaisance in good works, 
easily puff him up, unless the weight of ad 
versity humbles his presumption and thus pre 
serves him from pride. " He openeth the ears 
of men," says Job, " and teaching, instructeth 
them in what they are to learn. That he may 
withdraw a man from the things he is doing, 
and may deliver him from pride, rescuing his 
soul from corruption, and his life from pass 
ing to the sword. He rebuketh also sorrow in 
the bed, and he maketh all his bones to 
wither." 22 

For a good superior the humiliation of ad 
versity is a sure means of salvation and prog 
ress, without which success will raise a storm 
of presumption. David, who was a man ac 
cording to the heart of God, was most devoted 

21 2 Kings 7, 14. 22 Job 33, 16-19. 

Patience 5 1 

and humble when steeped in adversity, but 
fell into sin when he became elated with his 
successes. " It is good for me that thou hast 
humbled me, that I may learn thy justifica 
tions." 23 

10. The merits of a superior, as was in 
dicated above, are increased by the fact that 
he acquires glory from the good which he 
promotes in himself and others, and is mag 
nificently rewarded for the hardships which 
he endures, as the gold that is cleansed by fire 
becomes purer and more refined. " As gold 
in the furnace he hath proved them, and as a 
victim of a holocaust he hath received them." 24 
Frequently, however, spiritual perfection in 
creases imperceptibly and is strengthened 
when seemingly weakened. " So is the king 
dom of God," says Jesus, " as if a man should 
cast seed into the earth, and should sleep and 
rise, night and day, and the seed should spring, 
and grow up whilst he knoweth not." 25 

But it would not be surprising if the exer- 

23 Ps. 118, 71. 2 Mark 4, 26 sq. 

24 Wisd. 3, 6. 

52 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

tions of a superior did not succeed in all things, 
since the work of God in men does not always 
redound to their salvation, and while " many 
are called, but few are chosen." 26 Not all 
the seed that is sown grows, and those who 
dig for treasures willingly throw up tons of 
earth to find a little gold and silver. The per 
fection of a good superior is as great as would 
be the loss were he not a superior, just as 
light is good in so far as its absence is an evil. 
A superior ought to be encouraged to bear his 
burden by the thought that he merits reward 
no less on account of those who fail or advance 
but little, than on account of those who make 
the greatest progress. For the Apostle does 
not say that every one shall receive his own re 
ward according to his perfection, but " accord 
ing to his labor." 27 It belongs to God " to 
give the increase." 28 A teacher labors harder 
with a fractious than with a docile pupil, and 
a fair judge will reward him more therefor. 
A farmer labors harder in a sterile and stony 

26 Matt. 22, 14. 28 Ib. 3, 7. 

27 i Cor. 3, 8. 

Patience 53 

field, and though the harvest be smaller, the 
reward is greater, because what is obtained 
with greater difficulty often sells at a higher 



i. The fourth wing of a religious superior 
is an exemplary life or edification. A superior 
ought to be a model for his subjects and teach 
by example as well as words, just as one who 
teaches geometry exhibits his demonstrations 
by figures, to make himself more easily under 
stood. It is said of Jesus in the Acts of the 
Apostles that He " began to do and to teach," * 
and in St. John's Gospel He says of Himself: 
" I have given you an example, that as I have 
done to you, so you do also." 2 Gideon in 
the Book of Judges says : " What you shall 
see me do, do you the same." 3 Although a 
superior ought to excel his subjects not only 
in the virtues described, but also in all others, 
he should particularly set them an example in 

!Acts i, i. 3 Judges 7, 17. 

2 John 13, 15. 


Edification 55 

the following three things: in the community 
exercises, in gentleness and humility, and in 
uprightness and sincerity. " In all things," St. 
Paul exhorts his disciple Titus, " show thy 
self an example of good works, in doctrine, in 
integrity, in gravity." 4 

2. A superior should conform himself with 
his subjects in food, dress, and work, and not 
indulge in banquets and drinking bouts while 
the others use coarse food and drink. Nor 
should he dress differently from those with 
whom he stands on the same footing as regards 
profession, nor, while arranging or ordering 
their occupations, dispense himself from work 
ing with his subjects. A shepherd who keeps 
aloof from his sheep exposes them to the 
wolves. Let him be strong for the strong and 
weak for the weak, as St. Paul suggests : " To 
the weak I became weak, that I might gain 
the weak. I became all things to all men that 
I might save all." 5 If a healthy superior lives 
like a weakling, he makes his subjects ef 
feminate by his example ; if he is sick and re- 

* Tit. 2, 7. 5 1 Cor. 9, 22. 

56 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

fuses to take medicine, he makes them pusil 
lanimous by insinuating that he either wishes 
them to do as he does, or does not desire them 
to be cured. A soldier fights more cheerfully 
when he sees his general sharing the hardships 
of the campaign. " All the time that the Lord 
Jesus came in and went out among us, begin 
ning from the baptism of John, until the day 
wherein He was taken up from us," 6 that is 
to say, from the time He began to have dis 
ciples until He ascended up to His Father, He 
always taught by His example, coming in, liv 
ing on familiar terms with His disciples, and 
going out, by associating with the multitude, 
as was proper. 

3. The superior should also be humble in 
his bearing, show by his conduct that he has no 
high opinion of himself, and does not affect the 
superiorship, but is fearful and would rather 
prefer the condition of a subject, convinced 
that those over whom he is placed are better 
than he and deeming himself more worthy to 
be their servant than their master. Thus he 

Acts I, 21, 22. 

Edification '57 

shall live up to the admonition of our Lord: 
" He that is greater among you, let him be 
come as the younger ; and he that is the leader, 
as he that serveth. But I am in the midst of 
you as he that serveth." 7 " Have they made 
thee ruler? be not lifted up; be among them 
as one of them." 8 

4. A superior should, furthermore, be af 
fable, so that his subjects have easy access 
to him and can speak with him with confidence 
of their needs. He should listen to them pa 
tiently, kindly give them satisfaction, earnestly 
instruct and cheerfully exhort them. He 
should seek to be loved rather than feared, 
for men more willingly obey one who is loved 
than one who is feared. Loving obedience is 
in the proper sense voluntary, whereas obedi 
ence based upon fear is forced. But the more 
voluntary obedience is, the sublimer its merits. 
The purpose of the superior's office is to guide 
those committed to his care to eternal life and 
faithfully to lead them to merits of virtue. 

5. A superior should be modest in the use 
7 Luke 22, 26, 27. 8 Eccl. 33, i. 

58 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

of temporal things. He should neither prac 
tise nor love ostentation, but whatever he has 
should show forth voluntary poverty and hu 
mility, as, for instance, his garments, books, 
cell, bed, utensils, table, and similar things, so 
that nothing may have the appearance of van 
ity and singularity; nor shall he tolerate them 
in the rest. Like attracts like; a proud heart 
loves novel, an humble heart lowly, things. 
The sign of an humble heart is to seek neither 
dainty, nor love precious, nor desire costly 
things. Job says : " He beholdeth every high 
thing, he is king over all the children of 
pride." 9 

6. Honesty and sincerity shows itself in 
three ways. First of all a superior should 
not be frivolous, or use vulgar and irreligious 
language, which, though it may occasionally 
be considered amusing, savors of disrespect. 
" If a preacher is frivolous in his ways," says 
Saint Gregory, " his preaching will repel 
others." 10 Though a superior is rather to be 

9 Job 41, 25. 

10 Horn in Ezech., 1. 3, n. 4. 

Edification 59 

loved, yet by the insolent he ought to be feared. 
Love itself is sweeter, as it were, when mixed 
with respect. This is evident in our Creator, 
the sweetness of whose dignity is felt more 
deliciously the more exalted His Majesty is 
found to be. Hence the Psalmist says : " The 
Lord is sweet and righteous; therefore, He 
will give a law to sinners in the way." 1X 

7. A good superior should not bestow his 
affections lightly on women or persons con 
spicuous for levity. For, although the more 
virtuous are to be treated with greater affec 
tion than those who are less virtuous, and all 
with consideration for the sake of the hope 
of eternal salvation in Christ, still in his ex 
ternal bearing the superior should act towards 
everyone so that he may not be suspected of 
despising one for the sake of others, but that 
each may think himself loved by him and con 
fide in him as in a true friend. Thus he shall 
avoid the evil appearance of entertaining dis 
pleasure towards some and malice towards 
others, as it was with the brothers of Joseph, 
" Ps. 24, 8. 

60 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

who hated him because he was a favorite of 
their father. 

8. A good superior should not be fickle in his 
counsels, so that what pleases him today dis 
pleases him tomorrow, wishing now this and 
now that, though there is no reason for the 
change. Who shall trust his judgment or con 
form to his will when he is shaky in either? 
His subjects can neither respect his prudence 
nor know how to render obedience to him. 
In either case great harm is apt to follow. He 
should bear in mind the words of St. Paul: 
" Prove all things ; hold fast that which is 
good," 12 and, " Do ye all things without mur- 
murings and hesitations." 13 But where there 
is good reason for acting differently in differ 
ent circumstances, such as real necessity or re 
ligious utility, he is not frivolous but correct 
and sincere in his conduct, for, as it is folly 
to exchange the better for the worse, so is it 
foolish to cling obstinately to one's ideas and 
not know when to sacrifice them for a greater 
and more evident good. " Neither must you 

" i Thess. 5, 21. 1S Phil. 2, 14. 

Edification 61 

think," said the great king Artaxerxes, " if 
we command different things, that it cometh of 
levity of mind, but that we give sentence ac 
cording to the quality and necessity of the 
times, as the profit of the commonwealth re- 
quireth." 14 The Apostle, excusing himself 
for having promised the Corinthians a visit, 
says that he had not given this promise thought 
lessly but for their own benefit : " I have had 
a mind to come to you before, that you might 
have a second grace." 15 In Ecclesiasticus it 
is said : " As a judge of the people is himself, 
so also are his ministers: And what manner 
of men the ruler of a city is, such also are they 
that dwell therein." 16 

9. Good teachers usually have good scholars. 
In religious orders, and in the Church gener 
ally, many would become better if examples 
of virtuous life were given them by their 
instructors. Culpable negligence in this mat 
ter shall be severely punished, for God says 
through the prophet Ezechiel : " Behold, I 

14 Esther 19, 9. Ecclus. 10, 2. 

16 2 Cor. i, 15. 

62 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

myself came upon the shepherds; I will re 
quire my flock at their hands." 17 Teaching 
without example is like mortar without lime, 
dry and useless. " Thus saith the Lord God : 
I will break down the wall that you have 
daubed with untempered mortar." 18 Correct 
copies are made of correct, corrupt copies of 
corrupt books. Teaching by example makes 
a deeper impression than by words. " For the 
preaching of the one whose behavior is con 
temptuous, is worthless." 19 A superior ought 
to strive above all to make his subjects Christ- 
like, that is to say, imprint in them the form 
of the life and teaching of Christ, so that they 
may not only listen to him, but also imitate 
his virtues. Then he may say with St. Paul : 
" Be ye followers of God, as most dear chil 
dren," and " My little children, of whom I am 
in labor again, until Christ be formed in 
you." 20 But as verbal instruction fails to en 
force the teachings of Christ, superiors should 

1T Ezech. 34, 10. 
18 Ezech. 13, 14. 

19 St. Greg., Horn, in Evan., 1. 12, n. I. 

20 Ephes. 5, i ; Galat 4, 19. 

Edification 63 

exhibit its visible form in their lives, so that it 
become more deeply impressed upon their in 
feriors. Then they may say with the Apostle : 
" Be ye followers of me, as I also am of 
Christ's" 21 ; in other words, if you desire a 
model of a Christlike life, behold it in my con 
duct, for, he says : " I live, now not I, but 
Christ liveth in me." 22 The representative of 
Christ ought to take His place in promoting 
His love, in strengthening His authority, and 
in reflecting His likeness. He should promote 
in his subjects what Christ desires, and by his 
authority accomplish what is expedient for 
them and exhibit in his life and conduct what 
is possible for them to imitate. " For," says 
St. Paul, " we preach not ourselves, but Jesus 
Christ, our Lord ; and ourselves, your servants 
through Jesus." 23 He preaches himself and 
not Christ, who in his utterances seeks his own 
glory and by a bad example sets up himself 
rather than Christ as an example for imita 
tion, as the same Apostle declares : " They are 

21 1 Cor. ii, i. 23 ! Cor. 4, 5. 

22 Gal. 2, 20. 

64 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

zealous in your regard not well : but they would 
exclude you, that you might be zealous for 
them." 24 In other words, those who by their 
bad example keep you from imitating Christ, 
so that you learn to imitate their ways and 
follow their example, are not imbued with the 
right zeal, even though they be your superiors. 

"Gal. 4, 17- 



I. The sixth wing of the ecclesiastical 
Seraph is prudent discretion and thoughtful 
consideration of the things to be undertaken. 
How necessary these qualities are for the one 
who is to be superior over religious, Solomon 
shows. Being free to ask a favor from God, 
he set everything else aside and asked for wis 
dom, without which he declared himself un 
able to rule his people wisely. " Give 
therefore," he prayed, "to thy servant an 
understanding heart, to judge thy people, and 
discern between good and evil." 1 " To you, 
therefore, O kings, are these my words, that 
you may learn wisdom, and not fall from it." 2 
" And now, O ye kings, understand : receive 
instruction, you that judge the earth." 3 A 

1 3 Kings 3, 9- * Ps. 2, 10. 

Wisd. 6, 10. 


66 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

superior is a guide for the flock committed 
to his care, and if he errs, the flock is confused 
and led astray. As the eye is the light of the 
body, so the shepherd is the light of the flock 
entrusted to him. " You are the light of the 
world, ... so let your light shine before men, 
that they may see your good works." 4 As 
the eye is either keen or dim, so the body is 
guided by it either in the right or in the wrong 

2. A twofold prudence is necessary for a 
superior. He should know what is to be done 
and how it is to be done. For a good act is 
not good of itself unless it is done well, that 
is to say, done as it ought to be done. " Cast 
discretion to the winds," says St. Bernard, 
" and virtue becomes a vice." 5 Without it zeal 
becomes rashness. "They have a zeal of 
God," says St. Paul, " but not according to 
knowledge." 8 Without prudence compassion 
lapses into trivial sentimentality under the 
guise of affection. " He that spareth the rod," 

4 Matth. 5, 14. 6 Rom. 10, 2. 

5 Serm. in Cant., 49, n. 5. 

Prudent Discretion 67 

declares the Wise Man, " hateth his son," 7 that 
is to say, he who under the guise of affection 
fails to correct the erring, ruins his soul. Pa 
tience without prudence arouses contempt 
against authority, since such a superior under 
the cloak of humility fails to repress the dis 
obedient. " Roboam was inexperienced and 
of a fearful heart, and could not resist them," 8 
namely, those who set themselves against him 
and the Lord. Finally, without prudence 
good example is worthless for the edification 
of others, as good food without salt is not 
relished. For this reason the Lord prescribed 
offerings of salt with the oblations, 9 and in 
Genesis He says : " If thou do well, shalt thou 
not receive? If ill, shall not sin forthwith be 
present at thy door?" 10 In other words, it 
is not enough to do a good thing, but one must 
also consider how, when, where, and why to 

3. There are many things concerning which 
a superior ought to exercise prudence, so 

7 Prov. 13, 24. 8 Levit. 2, 10. 

8 2 Paralip. 13, 7. 10 Gen. 4, 7. 

68 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

many that they cannot be touched upon in a 
brief treatise like this. But there seem to be 
principally four, about which he ought to ex- 
'ercise thoughtful consideration. In the Book 
of Exodus the high priest is directed, when 
entering the holy of holies, to carry upon his 
breast among other ornaments " the rational 
of Justice," " and set in it four rows of 
stones." n Like the high priest entering the 
holy of holies to serve the Lord, a superior 
assumes the care of souls to render to God a 
most acceptable service by attending to their 
salvation; for there is no offering more ac 
ceptable to God than zeal for souls. A su 
perior must, therefore, among other qualifica 
tions, bear upon his breast, as it were, four 
qualities. The first of these is ability to gov 
ern those committed to his care, so that his 
good subjects advance and persevere. The 
second, ability to correct and amend those that 
have erred and sinned. The third, ability to 
dispose of the business matters requiring his 
attention. The fourth, ability to guard and 
" Ex. 28, 15, 17, 20. 

Prudent Discretion 69 

conduct himself prudently in all these things. 
The three precious stones are the three quali 
ties pertaining to these four qualifications. 

4. To know distinctly the character, con 
science and abilities of his subjects, so that the 
duties of regular observance are assigned to 
each according to the best interests of all, is 
a prime requirement in a superior. All can 
not do everything in the same manner, but, as 
St. Paul says : " Everyone hath his proper gift 
from God; one after this manner, and another 
after that." 12 God prescribed : " Aaron and 
his sons shall go in, and they shall appoint 
every man his work, and shall divide the bur 
dens that every man is to carry." 13 Aaron 
and his sons represent the major and minor 
superiors, who ought to enter into, and im 
pose upon each the duties of the regular ob 
servance according to custom. As there are 
three grades of this observance, they form 
three jewels in the first field of the four forms 
described above. 

5. The first matter for a superior to attend 
12 1 Cor. 7, 7. 13 Num. 4, 19. 

70 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

to consists in that which, according to the 
form of each one's profession, is necessary for 
salvation. This is so intimately connected 
with the order and the rule that heedless trans 
gression of it is a grievous sin. Such is obedi 
ence, voluntary poverty, chastity, and what 
ever is commanded under the binding power 
of obedience. In regard to these matters a 
superior has no power to dispense, since even 
he is bound to keep them. It is a superior's 
duty to watch carefully over these matters, be 
cause he is bound to watch zealously over their 
observance, to urge those who are refractory 
to observe them, and for no reason whatever 
to allow, as far as he is concerned, any one 
to act contrary to them, even though this would 
cause great hardship or loss to him or his 
brethren. " Who shall separate us from the 
love of Christ," says St. Paul, " shall tribu 
lation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? 
or danger? or persecution? or the sword? " 14 
He meant to say: none of these. This is a 
reply to those who say: if the needs of the 
14 Rom. 8, 25. 

Prudent Discretion 71 

brethren are not supplied in one way or an 
other, they cannot live. Since such a form of 
collecting is opposed to the Rule, a scandal 
and disgrace to the religous life, it is better for 
religious not to remain in a place where they 
cannot or will not live as such; for then they 
shall neither perish themselves nor shall others 
be scandalized by them. " He that shall 
scandalize one of these little ones that believe 
in me, it were better for him that a millstone 
should be hanged about his neck and that he 
should be drowned in the depth of the sea." 15 
What shall be said of those who scandalize 
many? This reflection ought to be the first 
stone shining on the breast of the religious 
superior, and is to be guarded above all. 

6. The second point pertains to those things 
that refer to the practice of higher perfection, 
namely, extraordinary patience, exalted hu 
mility, heroic charity, strict temperance, rare 
poverty, sublime devotion, and similar virtues. 
To these the superior ought to lead those com 
mitted to his care by exhortations, admoni- 

"Matth. 18, 6. 

72 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

tions, and attractive example, rather than by 
compulsion, when they are tardy or remiss. 
For the counsels of perfection are recom 
mended, not commanded, with the exception 
of those that fall within the limits of the vow, 
as, for example, continence. The principal 
reason for the institution of monastic life, how 
ever, was that it might be a wrestling school 
for exercising in perfection. In the palaestra 
the wrestlers were stripped to the buff and 
rubbed with oil, so that they could not be 
gripped by their opponents. This is an apt 
figure of the struggle going on in the religious 
life. " Every one that striveth for the mas 
tery," says St. Paul, " refraineth himself from 
all things." 16 A superior, therefore, should 
also carry this gem upon his breast when teach 
ing and urging his followers not only to walk 
on the path that leads to salvation, but also 
to strive after the perfection that will secure 
for them great glory in heaven. 

7. The third object of a superior's care and 
attention, are those things which are neither 
i i Cor. 9, 25. 

Prudent Discretion 73 

purely necessary for salvation nor form the 
subject of higher perfection, but which are 
nevertheless appropriately assigned by the Holy 
Fathers for the acquisition and preservation of 
both as exercises of good works, as ornaments 
of a religious life, and as means of edifying 
those that observe them. Such are : fasting, 
silence, the solemn celebration of the divine 
office, and corporal exercises. These, accord 
ing to the Apostle, 17 are as useful as instru 
ments to artists, though they can be performed 
without tools, as it were, by experts, because 
the arts existed long before such special tools. 
Hence a prudent superior, if necessity or util 
ity demand, will dispense in such things with 
out difficulty according to the requirements of 
time and place, when he sees that it is expedient 
to do so. Where, however, neither necessity 
nor utility justifies a dispensation, he will seek 
to have these things performed. To know 
how to observe the golden mean between rigor 
and laxity requires considerable discretion in a 
superior. If he were too rigorous, he would 
17 1 Tim. 4, 8. 

74 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

make himself disagreeable to his brethren and 
they would be less disposed to practice those 
virtues which are more useful and necessary; 
whereas, if he were more indulgent than he 
ought to be, relaxation of discipline would 
quickly follow. " He that contemneth small 
things, shall fall little by little." 18 

8. A superior must also exercise prudence in 
correcting sinners. This is the second row of 
precious stones and contains three jewels. 
For there are three forms of discretion, as 
there are three kinds of delinquents. Some 
delinquents, after a fall, soon apply the remedy 
of penance, urged thereto either by the interior 
voice of conscience or by external correction 
on the part of others. The spiritual physician 
ought to apply the remedy of penance with 
the balm of compassion tempered in such a 
manner that sinners may render satisfaction 
to God for their offences and repair the scandal 
they have given, so that others may be filled 
still more with the fear of sin, while the peni 
tents themselves, finding it such an easy rem- 

18 Eccles. 19, i. 

Prudent Discretion 75 

edy, do not regret that they have submitted 
to the penance imposed. St. Paul says: " If a 
man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are 
spiritual [physicians] instruct such a one in the 
spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest 
thou also be tempted; " 19 in other words, im 
pose such a penance upon the sinner that he 
may realize the gravity of his fault, yet treat 
him with the clemency with which you would 
desire to be treated by others were you to fall 
into a similar sin. Such discretion is one of 
the jewels of the second order. 

9. Others, when they have sinned, conceal, 
excuse, and defend their fault. The venom 
of sin festers in their conscience, and although 
the superior may judge from certain symptoms 
that putrid poison has collected there, still it 
does not break forth, either by evident facts or 
voluntary confession, so that it could be lanced 
at the proper moment with the scalpel of public 
correction. If he reproves the delinquent, 
nothing is gained, and he seems rather to ex 
cite his evil passions than to correct the erring 

Gal. 6, i. 

76 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

brother. If he falters and dissembles, he is 
tormented and filled with anxiety for the soul 
of the brother as well as for his own, because 
he fails to correct a delinquent. Since he 
cannot, therefore, fitly do anything else in the 
circumstances, he ought to keep his own coun 
sel and practice patience. What he cannot do 
by persuasion, he should seek to accomplish 
by prayer, in order that God may soon con 
vert the erring subject or bring to light his 
hidden malice for the purpose of applying a 
suitable remedy. Thus for some time Our 
Lord silently tolerated His betrayer, Judas, for 
He omitted to reprove him publicly until his 
wickedness grew so enormous that it came to 
light by itself. Although, while it remained 
a secret, he Judas was afflicted with a 
deadly malady of the soul, still his evil condi 
tion injured no one, and hence he could with 
out any blame to Jesus be tolerated in silence. 
" Suffer both," namely, " the cockle and the 
wheat, to grow until the harvest," 20 says Our 
Lord in reference to such a condition, and the 
20 Matt. 13, 30. 

Prudent Discretion 77 

Apocalypse says : " He that is filthy, let him 
be more filthy still." 21 But such persons 
ought, when possible, to be prudently deterred 
from the occasion of sin, and in common with 
others admonished to reform. This Our 
Lord did for Judas when He said : " Woe to 
that man by whom the Son of Man shall be 
betrayed." 22 Since Judas, however, could not 
have fallen into such a dreadful sin unless he 
had gradually and repeatedly hardened his 
heart in crime, it is evident that he was secretly 
tolerated for some time in his evil state by 
Our Lord, who may have said : " I am silent, 
and as one that seeth not." 23 Such dissem 
bling in the heart of a superior requires a high 
degree of prudence in order not to deflect him 
from the path of justice. This is the second 
gem in the second row of jewels that should 
shine upon the breast of a superior. 

10. The third kind of delinquent religious 
are guilty of grievous and public faults and 
receive no proper correction, or receive it per- 

21 Apoc. 2,2, ii. 23 Isaias 57, n. 

22 Matt. 26, 24. 

78 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

versely, because they do not mend their con 
duct and others are led into evil through them, 
or scandalized by them, or begin to imitate 
them, when they see that they sin without be 
ing punished, desiring to be spared themselves 
as the others are spared. Wherever these four 
conditions concur, namely, grievous and 
public transgression, no hope of correction on 
account of obstinacy or an inveterate habit of 
sin, infection of others by bad example, or 
scandal by toleration, nothing remains to be 
done but to cast away the rotten egg and cut 
off the putrid member, lest sound organs be 
come infected and corrupted. This the Holy 
Ghost enjoins in the following passage : " I 
would they were even cut off, who trouble 
you." 24 " Put away the evil one from among 
you." 25 "If the unbeliever depart, let him 
depart." 26 "Cut it [the unfruitful fig-tree] 
down therefore: why cumbereth it the 
ground?" 27 "Every tree that bringeth not 

2 * Gal. 5, 12. 26 i Cor. 7, 15. 

25 1 Cor. 5, 13. 2T Luke 13, 7. 

Prudent Discretion 79 

forth good fruit, shall be cut down." 28 
" Command the children of Israel, that they 
cast out of the camp every leper, and whoso 
ever hath an issue of seed, or is defiled by the 
dead, . . . lest they defile it." 29 Superiors 
should not, however, be impelled to take such 
measures by mere impulse, but seek the mature 
advice of prudent persons imbued with the 
spirit of God and the gift of counsel. The 
Holy Ghost says : " Do nothing without coun 
sel, and thou shalt not repent when thou hast 
done." 30 And Christ declares: "He that 
shall scandalize one of these little ones that 
believe in me, it were better for him that a 
millstone be hanged about his neck, and that 
he should be drowned in the depth of the 
sea." 31 In other words, the one who, in the 
habit of a religious, by his conduct scandalizes 
rather than edifies the simple-minded, deserves 
to be sentenced to expulsion, lest his evil ex 
ample contaminate the community. 

28 Matt. 3, 10. so Ecclus. 32, 24. 

29 Numb. 5, 2, 3. si Matt. 18, 6. 

8o Virtues of a Religious Superior 

11. The third sphere in which prudence and 
discretion are to be exercised, are the business 
affairs that a superior has to attend to. Some 
of these he must delegate to others, some he 
must attend to himself, others he must put 
away as far as possible. Thus Christ left 
some things to His disciples, as, for instance, 
money matters to Judas, and retained for Him 
self the office of preaching and curing the sick. 
When requested to settle a dispute about an 
inheritance among brothers, He answered: 
" Who hath made me judge, or divider, over 
you?" 32 

12. If he desires to attend personally to the 
external and temporal needs of the body, a 
superior is prevented from attending to the in 
terior and better things, for when the mind is 

1 diverted to external affairs, it is apt to neglect 
the interior and urgent needs of the soul. The 
Lord enjoined upon Moses : " Be thou to the 
people in those things that pertain to the Lord, 
. . . that so it may be lighter for thee, the 
burden being shared out unto others." 33 A 
32 Luke 12, 13, 14. 8S Ex. 18, 19, 22. 

Prudent Discretion 8 1 

similar injunction is indicated in the Acts : " It 
is not reason that we should leave the word of 
God, and serve tables." 34 If a superior has 
no one to whom he can commit the care for 
externals, it would be better to suffer losses 
than that he himself should be occupied with 
temporal affairs. Christ, who knew Judas to 
be a thief, nevertheless permitted him to attend 
to business affairs. " He was a thief, and 
having the purse, carried the things that were 
put therein." 85 The example of Our Lord 
contradicts those who easily find others to 
whom they can commit the care of souls in 
order to attend to business affairs themselves, 
though it is an incomparably greater injustice 
to imperil immortal souls than to suffer the 
loss of earthly things. 

13. A director of souls and superior ought 
to reserve for himself the care of spiritual 
things and whatever is necessary for salvation 
and progress in virtue, as these matters pertain 
to the very substance of his official position 
and he shall have to render an account of them 
8 * Acts 6, 2. 85 John 12, 6, 

82 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

above all others before the judgment seat of 
God. They are the following: the manner 
in which the rule and other regulations and 
the discipline of the order are kept; peace and 
charity among the brethren; knowledge of the 
character of each and solution of their diffi 
culties ; foresight and prevention of the danger 
of sinning; admonition of their subjects to ad 
vance in virtue; correction of what should be 
corrected, solving doubts, instructing all how 
to attend to the obligations assigned to them 
in a proper manner, so that they may please 
their brethren as much as possible and not act 
contrary to the dictates of conscience. When, 
however, it is impossible to satisfy others with 
out offending God, God must be obeyed and 
patience practiced, for " we ought to obey God, 
rather than men." 36 The religious superior is 
the head of the body of the brotherhood. 
While the other members are employed in the 
duties assigned to each, the head, who is placed 
over all, shall provide for all as the center of 
all the senses ruling the whole body and trans- 
3 Acts 5, 29. 

Prudent Discretion 83 

mitting to all the individual impulses of the 
senses as well as the emotions through com 
mands or concessions of holy obedience, as the 
nerve centers do in the body. For the head 
is not employed in a single form of action, in 
order that it may devote itself to provide for 
all the members; it serves all; it sees, hears, 
tastes, and speaks for all. A superior's posi 
tion is similar in regard to his subjects.- St. 
Paul says : " They [the superiors] watch as 
being to render an account of your souls." 37 

14. Superfluous matters and such as are not 
necessary for the salvation or spiritual advance 
ment of souls, a superior should endeavor to 
avoid and keep away from himself and his 
brethren as much as possible. For since on 
account of lack of time and " the evil of the 
day " 38 it is almost impossible to attend to 
necessary matters, we cannot look after super 
fluous or other people's affairs without neglect 
ing what is better and more necessary. A 
mind distracted with many cares is less able 
to attend to its duties properly. When su- 
3 7 Heb. 13, 17. as Matt. 6, 34. 

84 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

periors and religious immerse themselves too 
deeply in external occupations, such as build 
ing, writing books, law-suits, etc., which they 
had better omit, it sometimes happens that they 
riot only neglect the better things, but also 
burden their conscience with sin. Business 
cares dull the mental vision for spiritual and 
internal things and quench the ardor of the 
soul for heaven. As pus gathers where there 
is a wound, which, unless it is removed, causes 
a sore or ulcer, so business cares may multiply 
so as to extinguish the spirit that should dom 
inate them. A prudent superior should fore 
see the consequences of every act and carefully 
consider what ought to be permitted and what 
is expedient. Ecclesiasticus utters this warn 
ing : " My son, meddle not with many mat 
ters." 39 It is foolish for one who carries a 
heavy burden to add to it unnecessarily. 

15. Above all, a superior should exercise 
discretion concerning himself, lest, while pro 
viding for others, he neglect himself, and in 
saving others, imperil his own salvation. 
"Ecclus. it, 10. 

Prudent Discretion 85 

There should always be present to him the 
words : " What doth it profit a man, if he gain 
the whole world, and suffereth the loss of his 
own soul ? " 40 This is the fourth row of 
gems, containing a threefold discretion as three 
precious stones. St. John says in his second 
Epistle : " Look to yourselves, that you lose 
not the things which you have wrought (in 
others) but that you may receive a full re 
ward." 41 

1 6. A superior's first care should be a serene 
conscience. His conscience, that is, should al 
ways be sound and pure. It is sound when he 
desires, undertakes, commands or permits noth 
ing that is forbidden, improper, or contrary to 
his holy profession, or in which there is sin 
or scandal. It is pure when he seeks not the 
approval of others for the good that he ac 
complishes or promotes, nor is pleased with 
himself in a disorderly manner on account of 
it, but seeks in all things to please God alone, 
so that what he does in His stead, i. e. } as His 
representative, he does for His sake or out 
* Matt. 16, 25. 2 John i, 8. 

86 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

of love for Him. " If thy eye be single," says 
Jesus, " thy whole body shall be lightsome ;" 42 
that is, if the intention is pure through charity, 
the entire body of good works performed will 
be worthy of eternal reward. " But if thy 
eye be evil, thy whole body shall be dark 
some." 43 Let the superior, therefore, ex 
amine his conscience and carefully consider 
what he has done, what he has omitted that 
ought to have been done, and from what 
motives he has acted. He should grieve over 
his faults, confess, correct, and avoid them; 
but regarding the good he has done, he should 
glory not in himself, but " in the Lord." 44 
St. Paul says: " If we would judge ourselves, 
we should not be judged." 45 He who brushes 
the dust from another can scarcely avoid being 
soiled himself, so that he must also dust him 
self. "Physician, heal thyself." 46 A su 
perior may, of course, rejoice over the good 
he has done, but he must not exalt himself, 

42 Matt. 6, 22. 45 i Cor. 11, 31. 

43 Matt. 6, 23. 49 Luke 4, 23. 

44 i Cor. i, 31. 

Prudent Discretion 87 

considering that God gave him the grace to 
think, speak, and act not for himself alone, 
but for those over whom he has been placed. 
17. He should also watch over his conduct 
and utterances, by which he is in duty bound 
to benefit others rather than himself. He 
who is compelled to live as an example to 
others, and to satisfy all, needs great discre 
tion to stick to the golden mean, lest he be 
either too sad or too merry, too severe or too 
lenient, too jolly or too stern, too harsh or 
too mild, too strict or too lax, too often with 
guests or too seldom, too choice or too sparse 
in reflection, too observant or too careless in 
regard to the doings of the brethren, too fa 
miliar with some and too neglectful of others. 
He cannot always please everybody, but he 
will err less by permitting kindness to influ 
ence his conduct, which renders him more 
amiable to his subjects and induces them to 
obey him more willingly, have recourse to him 
with greater confidence in their troubles, and 
imitate his example more zealously. His 
power and authority causes his subjects to fear 

88 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

him sufficiently; if to it he adds austere se 
verity, he burdens the minds of his subjects. 
" You ruled over them with rigor, and with 
a high hand and my sheep were scattered." 4T 
" Be not as a lion in thy house, terrifying 
them of thy household." 48 This is the reason 
why Our Lord Jesus, the Supreme Pastor, has 
given us such a noble example of kindness and 
charity and made Himself so loveable and so 
easily imitable that through the love of His 
humanity He draws us to the love and knowl 
edge of His Divinity. " While we visibly 
recognize God, we are drawn by Him to the 
love of invisible things." 49 He who takes the 
place of Christ should strive above all to make 
himself beloved by his subjects, so that he may 
the more easily draw them to the love of 
Christ. In doubtful matters he should always 
incline to what, according to his best judgment, 
is more in conformity with charity, humility, 
purity, and evangelical perfection. 

"Ez. 34, 4. 

* 8 Ecclus. 4, 35. 

* 9 Preface of the Nativity. 

Prudent Discretion 89 

18. This quality of discretion, which de 
termines all other things, should also lead the 
superior to give due attention to himself, in 
order that his discretion may not be like the 
eye of the body, which, though it sees other 
things, does not see itself ; in other words, " not 
to be more wise than it behooveth to be 
wise." 50 A superior should not trust himself 
more than is expedient, nor be wise in his own 
eyes, because, according to St. Gregory, " as 
subjects are tempted to criticise superiors be 
cause they do not act right in many things, so 
superiors are tempted to consider themselves 
wiser than the rest." 51 The Book of Proverbs 
says : " Hast thou seen a man wise in his own 
conceits? There shall be more hope of a fool 
than of him." 52 For the fool, lacking con 
fidence in himself, seeks advice from the wise 
man, in order to avoid mistakes; but he who 
presumes more than he ought upon his own 
judgment, even in erring, very often imagines 
himself to be right. The most dangerous 

50 Rom. 12, 3. 5 Prov. 26, 12. 

51 Moral., 34, c. 3, n. 50. 

90 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

temptation for every Christian soul seems to 
be to trust too much to one's own judgment. 
No one is so keen as not to err in some things, 
and hence he who imagines that he is always 
entirely right, deliberately opens the door for 
the tempter, who enters with various tempta 
tions under the semblance of good. " He 
sitteth in ambush," says the Psalmist, " with 
the rich in private places, that they may kill 
the innocent." 53 The evil spirit lays more 
snares when he knows a greater measure of 
success is obtainable. So he seeks the destruc 
tion of " the innocent " when the latter ex 
pects to serve God more than him. Hence it 
is always a matter of prudence for a superior 
to listen cheerfully to advice and to seek it 

19. There is a threefold advantage in doing 
this. First, the superior is more certain of 
not becoming the victim of deception, when 
others think just as he does. Secondly, if a 
mistake occurs after he has acted upon the 
advice of others, it cannot be imputed to him 
" Ps. 9, 28. Hebr. Ps. 10, 8. 

Prudent Discretion 91 

in the same degree as if he had acted solely 
on his own judgment. Thirdly, to those who 
observe this rule God, as a reward of humility, 
often gives the grace of learning, either 
through themselves or through others, what 
they did not know 'before. For this reason 
Moses, to whom God spoke face to face, 54 
gladly took and followed the advice of his 
father-in-law, Jethro. 55 The Holy Ghost by 
His inspiration induced St. Paul to go to 
Jerusalem and consult with his fellow apostles, 
Peter, John, and James, about the Gospel which 
he had learned through revelation from Jesus 
Christ, 56 in order that he might be more cer 
tain in his preaching and not disagree with 
them, thus giving the faithful an example of 
seeking advice from their superiors. " My 
son," says Sirach, " do thou nothing without 
counsel, and thou shalt not repent when thou 
hast done." 57 Some, as soon as they are 
raised to the position of superior, consider 
themselves so filled with the spirit of wisdom 

54 Ex. 33, ii. "Gal. 2, i. 

55 Ex. 18, 18. "Ecclus. 32, 24. 

92 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

that they regard everything their predecessors 
have done as wrong and foolish. Others, 
when relieved of office, condemn whatever 
their successors do, blind to the fact that, as 
they disparage the acts of others, so others 
underrate theirs. " Woe to thee," exclaims 
Isaias, " that despisest, shalt not thyself also 
be despised ? ' 5B For nobody's acts are, as 
a rule, so minutely and industriously criticised 
by others as the acts of those who themselves 
severely criticise others, when they are acci 
dentally found reprehensible in matters about 
which they censure others. 

20. There are two kinds of persons whose 
advice a prudent superior should not easily ac 
cept, namely, flatterers and detractors. The 
former induce him to trust in himself more 
than is right. " They that call thee blessed, 
the same deceive thee, and destroy the way of 
thy steps," 59 lest you think yourself right in 
humility of self-knowledge. Detractors in 
duce a superior to suspect others and to have 
a less worthy opinion of them than he may 
68 Is. 33, i. B9 Is. 3, 12. 

Prudent Discretion 93 

have had, and to misjudge the innocent even 
before he has full knowledge of the truth. Of 
such the Book of Esther says : " With crafty 
fraud they deceive the ears of princes that are 
well meaning and judge of others by their own 
nature. . . . The good designs of kings are 
depraved by the evil suggestions of certain 
men, . . . who endeavor to undermine by lies 
such as observe diligently the offices committed 
to them, and do all things in such manner as to 
be worthy of all men's praise." 60 Advice is 
usually sought for three reasons, namely, for 
the sake of enlightenment, to clear up doubtful 
matters; for the sake of authority, to give it 
greater force because the question was dis 
cussed with certain persons; and for the sake 
of peace, that no one may have reason for 
complaint. The first renders superiors more 
prudent; the second, more worthy of advance 
ment; the third, serviceable to all. But be- 
.catise there are countless individual cases in 
which prudence is necessary, no definite rule 
applicable to all can be given. 
00 Esther 16, 6, 7, 5. 



1. The sixth and last wing of the ecclesiasti 
cal Seraph, without which the others can ac 
complish nothing, and which is, therefore, the 
most necessary of all, is piety or devotion to 
God. It incites zeal for justice, infuses lov 
ing compassion, strengthens patience, sets up 
an edifying example, and enlightens discre 
tion. This is the " unction of the Spirit," 
teaching all things beneficial for salvation, as 
St. John says : " Let the unction which you 
have received from him, abide in you. And 
you have no need that any man teach you ; but 
as his unction teacheth you of all things." * 

2. Piety enlightens the mind to know what 
is best. " He [the Holy Ghost] will teach you 
all things, and bring all things to your mind." 2 

*i John 2, 27. 2 John 14, 26. 


Devotion 95 

It inflames the soul with a desire for what is 
good. " They that eat me, shall yet hunger ; 
and they that drink me, shall yet thirst." 3 It 
infuses strength for attaining perfection. " It 
is God who worketh in you, both to will and 
to accomplish." 4 It engenders horror of sin. 
" I have hated and abhorred iniquity." 5 It 
leads to the practice of virtue. 6 " He brought 
me into the cellar of wine, he set in order 
charity in me." 7 It regulates external con 
duct and expression. " Never have I joined 
myself with them that play; neither have I 
made myself partaker of them that walk in 
lightness." 8 It renders knowledge of faith 
sweet. " For the wisdom of doctrine is ac 
cording to her name," 9 namely, delicious 
knowledge. It raises hope to confidence. 
" For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to 
our spirit, that we are sons of God." 10 It 
kindles the love of God. " The charity of 
God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy 

3 Ecclus. 24, 29. 7 Cant. 2, 4. 

* Phil. 2, 13. 8 Tob. 3, 17. 

B Ps. 118, 163. 9 Ecflus. 6, 23. 

e Apoc. 10, 10. 10 Rom. 8, 16. 

g6 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

Ghost, who is given to us." n It places us 
on familiar terms with God. " The Lord 
spoke to Moses face to face, as a man is wont 
to speak to his friend." 12 It instills confi 
dence towards God. " We have confidence 
towards God. And whatsoever we shall ask, 
we shall receive of him." 13 It enriches our 
prayers. " May thy whole burnt-offering be 
made fat," 14 and, " Make a fat offering." 15 
It produces devotion and fervor. " Sweet, 
beneficent, and gentle is the spirit of wis 
dom." 1G It nourishes humility. " To whom 
shall I have respect, but to him that is poor 
and little." 17 It extracts the oil of the spirit 
as in a hot cauldron. It bestows constancy in 
adversity. " The Lord is my light and my 
salvation, whom shall I fear?" 18 St. Paul 
in his devotion says : " Who then shall sep 
arate us from the love of Christ?" 19 It 
makes all good works delightful. " Her con- 

11 Rom. 5, 5. lft Wisd. 7, 22, 23. 

12 Ex. 33, ii. 17 Is. 66, 2. 
18 John 3, 21, 22. 18 Ps. 26, I. 
" Ps. 19, 4. 19 Rom. 8, 35. 
Ecclus. 38, ". 

Devotion 97 

versation has no bitterness, nor her company 
any tediousness, but joy and gladness." 20 It 
raises the mind to heaven. " If he turns his 
heart to him, he shall draw his spirit and breath 
unto himself." 21 It engenders disgust for 
the world. " I have seen all things that are 
done under the sun, and behold all is vanity 
and vexation of spirit." 22 It arouses a desire 
for heavenly things. " I am straitened be 
tween two: having a desire to be dis 
solved and to be with Christ." 23 It wipes 
out sin and the punishment of sin. " Many 
sins are forgiven her, because she hath 
loved much." 24 It increases supernatural 
merit. "If riches be desired in life, what is 
richer than wisdom, which maketh all 
things." 25 It greatly edifies our neighbor. 
" Offer sacrifice to God, incense and a good 
savour for a memorial." 26 " We are a good 
odour of Christ." 2T It drives away devils. 
" The smoke thereof driveth away all kinds of 

20 Wisd. 8, 16. 24 Luke 7, 47- 

21 Job 34, 14- 25 Wisd. 8, 5- 

22 Eccles. i, 14. 2 Ecclus. 45, 20. 

23 Phil. I, 23. 27 2 Cor. 2, 15. 

98 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

devils." 28 It invites the Angels and Saints. 
" Princes went before joined with singers." 29 
" When thou didst pray with tears, ... I of 
fered thy prayer to the Lord." 30 

3. These and many other blessings are con 
ferred by the grace of piety or devotion. 
Hence a superior who has to guide souls ought 
to make every effort to possess it, for by means 
of it he is always informed of what should be 
done, assisted in doing it, and safeguarded 
against neglect. He should not only pray for 
himself, but also for those that have been en 
trusted to his care and for those whom he is 
not able to preserve from evil without the help 
of God. " Unless the Lord build the house, 
they labor in vain that build it." 31 The su 
perior should be a mediator between God and 
his subjects, in order that, solicitous for the 
interests of God among them, while instruct 
ing, correcting, and guiding them on the way 
to higher things, he may also faithfully pro 
mote their interests before God by conciliating 

28 Tob. 6, 8. 80 Tob. 12, 12. 

2 P S . 67, 26. i Ps. 126, i. 

Devotion 99 

Him, imploring His grace, and preserving the 
brethren from evil. Then he may say with 
Moses : " I was the mediator and stood between 
the Lord and you." 32 

4. Devotion may be general, or special, or 
continuous. It is general in divine office; 
special, in prayers ; continuous, in the perform 
ance of all duties. In regard to the divine 
office, a superior must possess a threefold zeal; 
namely, to see that everything is done in an 
orderly manner and without mistakes. " Let 
all things be done decently, and according to 
order." 33 " David and the chief officers of 
the army separated for the ministry the sons 
of Asaph, of Ham and Idithun; to prophesy 
with harps, and with psalteries, and with cym 
bals according to their number serving in their 
appointed office." 34 He should also see to 
it that the work of the Lord, namely, the divine 
Office, is performed assiduously. " Cursed be 
he that doeth the work of the Lord deceit 
fully." 35 He should see to its devout, rev- 

32 Deut. 5, 5. . 34 ! p ara i. 25, i. 

33 i Cor. 14, 40. 35 j er- ^ I0< 

ioo Virtues of a Religious Superior 

erent, distinct, and attentive recitation, guard 
ing against interruptions and disturbances, re 
membering that it is said : " With the whole 
heart and mouth praise ye Him and bless the 
name of the Lord." 36 

5. The Holy Ghost has commanded the 
recitation of the divine Office in the Church 
for five reasons. The first is to imitate the 
heavenly choirs. The Saints and Angels are 
unceasingly engaged in the presence of God in 
singing His praises. "Blessed are they," says 
the Psalmist, " that dwell in thy house, O Lord, 
they shall praise thee for ever and ever." 37 
Christ, according to His promise, " Behold I 
am with you all days, even to the consumma 
tion of the world," 38 deigns to be truly with 
us here sacramentally as well as spiritually, 
and hence it behooves us to the best of our 
ability to render Him honor and praise ac 
cording to the example of the celestial Spirits, 
so that even though we do not praise Him 
continuously, as those heavenly chanters do, 

' 36 Ecclus. 39, 41. 38 Matth. 28, 20. 

37 Ps. 83, 5. 

Devotion 101 

we sing at least from time to time His praises 
in spite of our frailty, imitating " that Jeru 
salem, which is above, . . . which is our 
mother." 39 

6. The divine Office has been established, 
secondly, that we should render thanks to God 
at certain hours, mindful of His blessings, and 
praying for His grace from time to time turn 
to Him, who was born of the Virgin Mary at 
night, dragged before the council at early 
morn, arose at daylight, was scourged at the 
third hour, and a little later sent the Holy 
Ghost upon the Apostles, was crucified at the 
sixth hour, died upon the cross at the ninth, 
and being at supper in the afternoon gave us 
the Sacraments, and was buried at Compline. 
The celebration of Holy Mass, however, not 
only reminds us of the mystery of His Passion, 
but also exhibits the grace of His Real Pres 
ence, and under the form of the Blessed Sacra 
ment nourishes us in a spiritual manner with 
His Flesh and Blood. As it is right and 
proper, therefore, never to forget these things, 

" Gal. 4, 26. 

IO2 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

so it is also proper always to recall them at 
stated hours. " I will remember," says the 
Prophet, " the tender mercies of the Lord, 
the praise of the Lord for all the things that 
the Lord hath bestowed on us." 40 

7. In the third place the divine Office was 
established, in order that through it we may 
be continuously incited to devotion and kindled 
with the love of God, lest through indolence 
and the multitude of our occupations our love 
grow lukewarm. In the Book of Leviticus 
the Lord says : " This is the perpetual fire 
which shall never go out on the altar. . . . 
The priest shall feed it, putting wood on it 
every day in the morning." 41 This fire is the 
fervor of devotion, which ought always to 
burn on the altar of our heart, which the de 
vout priest ought to nourish constantly by put 
ting on it the fuel of divine praises, that it 
may never be extinguished. " I will bless the 
Lord at all times, His praises shall be always 
in my mouth." 42 

< Is. 63, 7. * 2 Ps. 33, 2. 

41 Lev. 6, 13, 12. 

Devotion 103 

8. The fourth reason for which the divine 
Offioe was instituted is that we may through it 
draw the faithful, who know how to set aside 
certain hours for prayer, to the practice of 
devotion, so that they may assemble in church 
at least when the offices of divine praise are 
performed therein, and be less easily distracted 
when they see the clerics celebrating the divine 
Office. "All the multitude of the people," 
says St. Luke, " was praying without, at the 
hour of incense." 43 Most people would 
scarcely ever devote themselves to prayer if 
they were not called to church from worldly 
occupations at stated times to engage in divine 
service and listen to the word of God. 

9. The fifth purpose of the divine Office is 
to exhibit the beauty of the Christian religion. 
Jews, Gentiles, and heretics from time to time 
assemble in their churches to celebrate their 
false rites. It is evidently far more proper 
and fitting for those who have the true and 
holy mysteries of the Sacraments to assemble 
often for the purpose of celebrating and vener- 

* 3 Luke i, 10. 

IO4 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

ating them and performing the solemn service 
of praise due to the Creator. For by this 
means they make themselves worthy of more 
grace, and of eternal life, and the laity are led 
to love and revere their holy religion. " To 
the festivals he added beauty, and set in order 
the solemn times, . . . that they should praise 
the holy name of the Lord." 44 

Hence among all the external observances 
of religion the greatest attention ought to be 
given to the divine Office, so that, as has been 
said, 45 it may be performed in an orderly, 
earnest and devout manner. At other times 
we labor for God, but during the time of divine 
service we assist at His throne, are ready to 
listen to and address Him, and He addresses 
us, and at the same time we implore His help 
in our necessities. 

10. Special devotion consists in private 
prayers; in the customary recitation of vocal 
prayers, such as psalms, litanies, and others, 
which each one performs in secret and accord 
ing to his personal inclinations. " Thus shall 
44 Ecclus. 47, 12. 45 Supra, n. 4. 

Devotion 105 

you pray," says Christ, " Our Father," etc., 46 
A second form of special prayer consists in 
holy meditation, when a person reflects upon 
his sins, misery, and future punishment, or 
recalls to mind the general and special favors 
he has received from God, the Passion of 
Christ, the sweet balm of His goodness and 
His promises of future reward, in order to de 
rive from the consideration of these things 
sentiments of devotion, of fear and love of 
God, of desire, compunction and spiritual joy. 
" I meditated in the night with my own heart : 
and I was exercised and I swept my spirit" 47 
Special devotion manifests itself, thirdly, in 
pious aspirations, tears and sighs, outbursts of 
love, and other internal and ineffable affec 
tions of the heart, in exaltations, ecstasies, rap 
tures and absorption of the soul in God. 
Through these " he who is joined to the Lord 
is one spirit " 48 with Him through the light 
of pure intelligence, through the knowledge 
of God, the ardor of His love, and a sweet 

4 Matth. 6, 9. 4 8 i Cor. 6, 17. 

47 Ps. 76, 7. 

io6 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

and intimate union full of joy. " The spirit 
himself asketh for us with unspeakable groan- 
ings." 49 

u. If a superior by the cares and distrac 
tions of his office is prevented from devoting 
himself to special devotions and prayers, he 
should, at least occasionally when it is pos 
sible, and as it were by stealth, engage in the 
practice of prayer, that he may not become 
entirely cold, neglect prayer, become a stranger 
to God, and the grace of God's mercy may not 
insensibly, as it were, be withdrawn from him. 
This was the reason why Moses, when harassed 
by the care of the people, frequently sought 
solace in the Tabernacle, entering into familiar 
intercourse with God and being thereby re 
freshed in mind and heart. Christ, after 
preaching to the multitudes during the day, 
spent the nights alone in prayer. Although a 
superior may have little time for prayer, still, 
because it is his duty to pray for others, he 
may sometimes for their sake be vouchsafed a 
greater measure of grace, in order that he may 
40 Rom. 8, 26. 

Devotion 107 

benefit also by praying those whom he benefits 
by his care and attention. But let him not 
neglect prayer, or refuse to improve the op 
portunity, when offered, lest he be deprived 
of the grace of prayer in punishment for his 

12. Devotion should be assiduous or continu 
ous in a superior, as in all that desire to ad 
vance in virtue. He should, first, constantly 
think of God. " I set the Lord always in my 
sight, . . . my eyes are ever towards the 
Lord." 50 Man ought to endeavor to find God 
everywhere and at every moment, as if He 
were really present in a visible manner. Elias 
and Eliseus were wont to say : " As the Lord 
liveth, in whose sight I stand." 51 For as the 
Angels do not cease to contemplate God 
wherever they are sent, so a virtuous man, as 
far as he is able, should never lose the thought 
of God from his heart. Should this ever hap 
pen, let him do penance. St. Bernard says : 
" Consider every moment lost in which you 

Ps. 15, 8; 24, 15. 

5i 3 Kings 17, i ; 18, 15 : 4 Kings 3, 14- 

io8 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

do not think of God." B2 Even if you cannot 
always concentrate your mind on Him in medi 
tation, direct it to Him at least by calling to 
mind His presence, and when an opportunity 
occurs, turn recollection into meditation or 
prayer, as an artist carries the materials for 
drawing about him in order to sketch a pic 
ture when he has an opportunity. 

13. Secondly, a superior should continually 
endeavor to please God by every word and 
deed, always act as if He were present, avoid 
whatever is apt to displease Him, be sorry if 
he has done anything displeasing to God, and 
eager to please Him more and more. " We 
labor, whether absent or present, to please him. 
For we must all be manifest before the judg 
ment seat of Christ." 53 A religious should 
always act as if he were about to appear before 
the tribunal of the Supreme Judge. " Be you 
then also ready; for at what hour you think 
not, the Son of Man will come." 54 He sees 

52 Lib. Medit., c. 6, n. 18. 

53 2 Cor. 5, 9. 
"Luke 12, 40. 

Devotion 109 

whatever we do, and as He does not forget the 
good works that merit reward, even though a 
long time may elapse, so also does He not for 
get the sins that deserve punishment if they 
are not purged from the soul by penance. 
" Every man that passeth beyond his own bed, 
despising his soul, and saying: Who seeth me? 
. . . No man seeth me: whom do I fear? the 
Most High will not remember my sins. . . . 
And he knoweth not that the eyes of the Lord 
are far brighter than the sun, beholding round 
about all the ways of men." 55 

14. The third form of assiduous or constant 
prayer consists in doing everything devoutly 
by directing at least the intention towards God, 
strengthening oneself by prayer for every 
eventuality, and rendering thanks to and prais 
ing God for every blessing. A superior should 
ask God to inspire him in the performance 
of his duties, to direct everything towards the 
attainment of salvation, to increase and pre 
serve His blessings. As a sailor who sees a 
storm coming, hastens to reach a safe harbor, 
55 Ecclus. 23, 25, 27. 

no Virtues of a Religious Superior 

so the religious should always fly to the harbor 
of prayer, in which he may escape every dan 
ger, and, in all that he does, should trust more 
to prayer than to his own labors and exertions. 
" As we know not what to do, we can only 
turn our eyes to thee." 56 " As the eyes of 
servants are on the hands of their masters, 
... so are our eyes unto the Lord our 
God." 8T 


Equipped with these and other wings, there 
fore, the ecclesiastical Seraph, that is to say, 
the religious Superior, should serve " the Lord 
sitting upon a throne high and elevated." 5S 
He raises the first pair of wings above his 
head, covers body and feet with the second, 
and flies far and high with the third, that the 
praise of men may not lessen his zeal nor 
carnal mindedness govern his conduct. 

A good intention shall support him and fra 
ternal charity elevate him to the enjoyment of 
a heavenly reward. " I have inclined my 

68 2 Paral. 20, 12. B8 Is. 6, i sqq. 

67 Ps. 122, 2. 

Conclusion in 

heart to do thy justifications forever, for the 
reward." 59 Patience and an exemplary life 
will shield him from the arrows of confusion 
and the nakedness of poverty in supernatural 
merits. By them he is defended as by arms, 
and clothed as with holy vestments. " Put on 
thy strength, O Sion, put on the garments of 
thy glory." 60 Discretion will enable him to 
fly everywhere, seeing what must be done and 
how, and devotion will make it possible for 
him to " seek the things that are above ; where 
Christ is sitting at the right hand of God." 81 
But though all who are placed over souls 
cannot have all these qualities in an equal 
measure, it is absolutely necessary for a su 
perior not to be deficient in them altogether, 
because without them he cannot secure the bless 
ing of edification for those over whom he is 
placed and of progress on the way to salvation. 
Every religious who has to govern himself and 
to account for others at the judgment seat of 
God, should be adorned and carried upward 

59 Ps. 118, 112. ei Col. 3, i. 

60 Is. 52, i. 

112 Virtues of a Religious Superior 

by these wings, in order that he may be fervent 
in justice, compassionate towards others for 
God's sake, patient in adversity, edify others by 
a good example, be circumspect in all things, 
and, above all, be intimately united with God 
through prayer. The Lord will protect him, 
guide and advance him in all things, and finally 
give him the grace of soaring to the heavenly 
mansions a grace that, we pray, may be 
granted to us by Jesus Christ. AMEN. 

BX 2438 .B66 1921 SMC 

Bonaventure, Saint, 

Cardinal, ca. 
The virtues of a 

religious superior 
AYA-9785 (awsk)